By Andrea Schoellkopf
Journal Staff Writer
Albuquerque Public Schools will have to pay about $1 million in impact fees plus $3.1 million to bring utilities to a new West Side high school.
APS has budgeted $60.8 million toward the first phase of a new high school to open on Universe just south of Ventana Ranch as early as 2007.
The new school is being built to ease overcrowding at Cibola High School, which was built for 2,200 students but now serves close to 3,000.
Some $988,000 in fees is required under the city's new Planned Growth Strategy.
The other $3.1 million is expected to be the off-site costs of extending utility lines, roads and sidewalks to the undeveloped land west of the city's escarpment along Universe, said John Petronis, president for Architectural Research Consultants of Albuquerque, which is helping plan the new school. That's because there has not been any other neighboring development yet to absorb those costs.
"They still have to have roads and drainage ditches, just like any major development," Petronis said Tuesday.
The numbers were announced Tuesday at a Northwest high school planning committee meeting at the APS City Centre.
City Councilor Michael Cadigan later called the district's figures a "worst-case scenario."
Cadigan— who represents the West Side— said that prior to the city's new impact fees, which went into effect July 1, APS still would have been paying a similar amount in exactions, or fees to cover improvements such extending roads and other services to new school sites.
In any case, he said, the school district would have to pay about $4 million in various fees to open the school.
He said the $3.1 million APS cites includes "soft costs" of designs, permits and contingencies.
Ultimately, Cadigan said, APS won't know how much it has to pay until it applies for its permit.
APS facilities master plan director Kizito Wijenje said APS still has to budget conservatively for its school.
Cadigan said if APS applies for its building permit before Jan. 1, the impact fee required by the planned growth strategy will be $837,000 due to the phase-in of the city's fee schedule. If they wait until 2007, that fee will go up to $1.1 million.
The fees cover streets, fire, police and drainage, he said.
Cadigan said he was unsuccessful in lobbying for an exclusion for schools under impact fee laws. He said developers were opposed to the exclusion.
He said the city-county water authority— of which he is a member— will help APS with the cost of extending water lines to the site, but the district has not yet asked for help.
"I think we are all in favor of financing it for them," Cadigan said.
The district is now trying to acquire 99 acres between Universe and Rainbow south of Paseo del Norte in a land trade with the state Land Office. The state has offered to exchange the land for 11 acres APS owns near Eubank and Central.
APS has received nine bids for the school's architect contract and is expected to announce the selection by Aug. 1.
The architects submitting bids include: ASCG Inc.; a team of Dekker, Perich & Sabatini and Fanning, Bard, Tatum Architects; Design Collaborative Southwest; Van Gilbert; NCA Architects; SMPC Architects; Garrett Smith; Westwork Architects; and Wilson and Co.
APS spokesman Rigo Chavez said he didn't know where the architects were from, though most appeared to be local firms. A committee is scheduled to review the applications today.
APS officials assured parents at the meeting that all of its high schools have been built in phases, with a core high school opening in the 276,800-square-foot first phase, which generally includes administration, classrooms, cafeteria, main gymnasium, library and athletic fields. The second phase usually includes more classrooms and the third phase would include an auxiliary gym.
Wijenje said La Cueva High, which was built about 18 years ago, finally got its running track about seven years ago.