Bucks County Herald

Palisades rejects proposed fitness center, citing cost


A proposal for establishing a fitness center at Palisades Middle School (PALMS), which was the subject of much discussion among school board members when it was first brought up five years ago, has now been tabled indefinitely.

The action was taken at the Dec. 3 public school board meeting, as approval of a motion “to reject all bids for the Palisades Middle School Fitness Center.” The new unit was to have been carved out from half of each of the boys’ and girls’ locker rooms, and used by PALMS students, staff, and athletic programs.

Officials explained before the vote that an original construction estimate of about $200,000, to cover demolition, construction, and new HVAC installation, had been provided by the project architect, who had asked a contractor for an estimate, and it became the basis for the board budgeting for the project.

But when the project was formally put out for public bid recently, no bids came in for less than twice that amount.

Officials surmised that local contractors were too busy to have significant interest, and summarized the project now as something that “we may later revisit.” The architect is understood to remain available.

Also at the Dec. 3 meeting, Superintendent Bridget O’Connell reported that the Nov. 13 “town hall meeting” on school safety and security had been “very successful,” with about 100 district residents in attendance. During an hour and a half presentation, they heard a panel discussion among local police, state police, the district attorney, and mental health professionals, and had the opportunity to ask questions. O’Connell described the result as “good information and conversation.”

Asked if another such program might be forthcoming, with perhaps more opportunity for community participation, she said the panelists had indicated a willingness to return, but that the law enforcement participation had created more of a need to limit total program length than was typically the case for district community programs.

District Communications and Development Director Donna Holmes, lauded by the board for organizing the event with Curriculum and Instruction Director Michael Donnelly, said it was unlikely the next one would be during the current school year, and that meanwhile video of the Nov. 13 event was to be posted on the district website.

During the annual school board reorganization meeting before the regular board meeting, Bob Musantry and Shari VanderGast were re-elected president and vice-president. All board committee chairs were also noted as continuing in their positions.


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