Brownstown building project put on hold


BROWNSTOWN — A project to add a tornado safe gymnasium and replace the HVAC system at Brownstown Elementary School has been delayed because of a lack of federal or state funding support.

Hal Kovert with Kovert Hawkins Architects Inc. gave that bad news to the corporation’s board of school trustees during its monthly meeting Tuesday night at the administration building.

The proposed project includes a 10,817-square-foot gymnasium, which would have a seating capacity of 1,200 and could be split in half to allow for two basketball courts, that would be connected to the existing building. The HVAC system, which is the original installed when the school was built in 1973, also would be replaced.

Kovert said the corporation’s plans to use a FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities grant was not going to work because of a change in how grant applications have been scored.

The Jeffersonville firm recently worked on a similar grant for a project planned by Springs Valley Community Schools, and the scores on the application were marked “way down.”

Kovert said the main reason it was marked down is because Indiana is not up to date with the building codes currently being used nationwide.

“Indiana did not want to adopt the latest international building codes,” he said. “Also with the BRIC grants, you are competing with schools across the nation and not just in Indiana. So when we looked at that, we decided it’s kind of a waste of time to go for the BRIC grant at the national level.”

Kovert said the latest national building codes include a lot of requirements for public buildings to have safe areas.

“… and that was the holdup at the state,” he said. “They’re all concerned about the fiscal impact that would have on individual building projects, so they have decided to not adopt that at this time, and even if they do adopt it, they may take out those components, and if they do that, it’s still not going to satisfy the application process.”

He said after checking with FEMA, the agency also has so many things going on, including the floods in Kentucky and the fires in California, it’s redirecting some of its funding.

“So we focused on the state,” Kovert said of a hazardous mitigation funding program.

The state has been telling the firm, however, that funds in the program have run out.

“So the bad news is I think there is no point in making any application,” Kovert said. “There’s no funding opportunities for this particular project.”

He said his firm will continue to search and see if there are funds for the project through some other group.

Superintendent Tim Taylor said his staff is going to continue to look at going ahead with the project.

“It would be a different type of structure,” Taylor said in reference to funding.

Assistant Superintendent Jade Peters said the project was going to be funded in part through the bond structure after the current bonds are paid off.

During his superintendent remarks, Taylor said school officials didn’t learn about the issues with applying for the grants to support the project until Kovert made his report.

He said the first he heard about the BRIC grant was when Kovert spoke to the board earlier in the meeting, and if he had known, he wouldn’t have had it on the agenda.

No posts to display