A sustainable school proposal for MacArthur

By Michelle Costanza

April 9, 2013 Updated Apr 9, 2013 at 12:04 AM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) After being displaced by the September 2011 flood, administrators hope a new proposal will have children returning to a permanent building.

A public hearing was heldM onday evening to present all factors of the project to the community.

Administrators, financial planners and architects were on hand to answer questions and address concerns.

While many were on board with the plan, a few concerns did arise.

"You're paying $77 million to build in a floodplain," said Christine Campo.

According to the planning committee, the decision to rebuild the new school on the existing site was made after considering other options. The proposal features columns that would elevate the building five feet above the 500-year floodplain.

The project would require several pre-construction costs, some of which include demolition of the current building, site preparation and legal and insurance fees.

The total price tag is $77.8 million.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and New York State Emergency Management will pay for most of the project. The local share is approximately $2.9 million.

If approved, residents would pay an additional $6.60 in taxes each year per $100,000 in assessed home and property value.

"Although we will incur some more costs, the benefits that our children will be receiving really outweigh the tax increase," said MacArthur parent Patti Fiato.

But why is it necessary to build such a large school?

"St. Francis has 6,500 square feet. St. Thomas has 8,000 square feet. MacArthur School consisted of 23,000 square feet. Although students are being temporarily housed in those two sites, they are not sufficient size," said Superintendent Marion Martinez.

Fiato mentioned the most important aspect of the project is to focus on the kids: "They're in buildings a fourth of the size, trying to house and do creative instruction for these students that they just don't have the room for. Studies have shown that we need this for our students and our children."

Plans include green energy construction alternatives that architects say will make it a "net-zero building," one that creates as much energy as it uses.

A public referendum vote will be held April 15. If approved, the construction timeline would allow the state-of-the-art facility to welcome students by September 2015.