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After years of planning, the Dover Area School District is moving forward with a $65 million building project.

Construction on a new high school will begin this summer, with a groundbreaking tentatively planned for August.

The board passed a motion to award contracts — contingent upon state Department of Education and other county and state agency approvals — at a June 19 meeting.

It will be a 291,000-square-foot space for 1,400 students, with a 1,000-seat auditorium and orchestra pit, a 1,500-seat gymnasium with an elevated running track and a six-lane natatorium, according to the architects.

Dillsburg-based Lobar Inc. submitted the winning bid for general contracting.

Additional winning bids went to Lobar Inc. for electrical, York Excavating Co. for site contracting, Matchline Mechanical for HVAC and Myco Mechanical for plumbing.

Years in the making: The decision to build a new high school had been in the works for more than three years by the time the board voted to go forward with the project in February.

More: Dover board approves $65 million high school building project

The new school is expected to open in 2020.

It will be built at the site of the Dover Area Intermediate School, and those students will be moved to the district's renovated high school building — currently in its planning phase. Once the project is completed, the old intermediate school building will be demolished.

Township supervisors gave conditional approval for the new high school last month, with consideration of outstanding issues that still need to be addressed.

More: Dover High School land development plans conditionally approved

On Tuesday, the school board voted 7-1 in favor of awarding the contracts, with Terry Emig submitting the only dissenting vote. 

Board Vice President Charles Delauter was not present at the meeting, but in an emailed statement read by board President Nathan Eifert, he expressed his approval of the project and said he would have cast an affirmative vote.

The approved bids came in half a million dollars under budget before alternates — options not in the original budget that will add or subtract from final costs.

All alternates were approved at the Tuesday meeting.

New field: One of those alternates is the construction of a multipurpose synthetic turf field for $521,628, with lighting for $327,000 — a total of $848,628.

District operations director Dave Nelson said the field was "almost a necessity," as it allows for back-to-back games and less maintenance (such as seeding and fertilizing for natural grass) which will save money over time.

The field also will allow athletes to practice and hold games from morning to night.

The district's current stadium turf field, used for football games, is entering its ninth year and starting to show wear and tear. It should last another five to six years, said district athletic director Rich Leathery.

The overall land development project is a net $183,519 under budget, even with the turf alternate.

Treasurer Steve Cook said it makes sense financially, as long as concern for injury is alleviated.

In the past, there were safety concerns associated with injuries from AstroTurf, but Leathery assured the board that the new generation of turf is far superior and now has more give.

It can withstand 3,000 hours of play per year, while grass can only take 680 to 800 hours.

Under budget: Cook said it's "almost mindblowing" to have extra projects and still be under budget. 

Per square foot, the cost of building the high school is $171.16, which representatives from architects Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and Associates said is one of the lowest compared to others in the state.

For high schools, costs have come in at well over $200 per square foot, they explained, and in 2016 the state average was about $205 per square foot.

Eifert read an emailed statement from Delauter before the vote, which acknowledged cost concerns but reminded the board that building costs and interest rates had gone up several million dollars since they started exploring the project — so now was the best time to approve it.

"I personally believe we are getting a lot of building for the money," Delauter wrote.

Eifert agreed with Cook and Delauter, saying, "I think it's incredible in this day's world" for the project to come in under budget.

Superintendent  Tracy Krum said a groundbreaking ceremony for the project is planned to take place prior to the board meeting in early August.

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