NAUGATUCK — As the renovations begin at Naugatuck High School the impact will be felt across the borough.
Lorel Purcel, preconstruction manager for O&G Industries, Inc., discussed what to expect throughout the 30-month, $81 million renovation project during a meeting at the high school last Thursday.
Since O&G is the construction manager it will be involved with every part of the project.
The project is broken into four different phases, with the first phase scheduled to begin on April 1.
The first phase will begin with work on the locker rooms behind the pool, the area in front of the pool, and the front of the school, which is currently a covered entryway area, Purcell said.
The first phase will also include the pool area and abatement and renovation of the Goodyear section of the school.
Eighteen temporary classrooms will be built for students during work on the school. The classrooms will be built in the library, cafeteria, and technical education areas. Purcell said the classrooms will have drywall partitions with ceilings, fire alarms and airflow.
“They’re going to function just like classrooms,” Purcell said.
Students will be in the temporary classrooms beginning in the fall and the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, Purcell said.
Purcell said there are numerous precautions that will be put into place to ensure the safety of the students and staff during the construction.
“You’ll see as you go through the different phases we’ve got hard partitions that are going to be constructed so that kids can’t accidentally wander into our area,” Purcell said.
Purcell said there is asbestos located throughout the building, which has to be removed before any work on a section can begin. He said abatement will only be done when school is not in session. The first round of abatement is scheduled to begin April 13, which is when the school’s spring break begins.
Board of Education Chairman David Heller raised concerns about workers being in the school the same time as students.
Purcell said they have taken that into consideration and have made it so that, although they are in the same building, they will never be in the same place. The workers will have different entrances to the school than the students and they will not be allowed to be in any part of the school that the students are in while school is in session.
All of the construction workers are issued badges and numbered hard hats, so that if they do enter the school area, students can indentify them. Any worker that enters the school area when school is in session will immediately be escorted off the property, he said.
Heller was also concerned about the impact the work would have on the learning environment of the school.
Purcell said the construction will be taking place during the school day at certain times, but that the workers are under contract not to do anything that could disrupt learning.
“We’ve put language in (the contract) that they’re not allowed to be disruptive while the kids are in session. So if they ever have to do any attachment to the structure for hangers or anything, they’re either going to have to come in early in the morning before school starts or stay late until school lets out to do their drilling,” Purcell said.
Purcell said that the contract also states that there is to be no noise at all during midterms, finals, or other such testing times.
The first phase also includes work on the athletic fields and the driveway.
The new driveway will cut across where student parking lot is right now. The rest of that parking lot will be used as a storage area for construction materials, office trailers and staging.
The upper parking lot will be used for parking for both workers and students on a first-come-first-serve basis, Purcell said. Although they will park in the same place, they will take different paths to enter the school at different locations, he said.
Although the athletic fields will be ripped up during the first phase of construction, athletic director Tom Pompei said that the upper field, which will be the site of a new artificial turf multi-sport field, should be ready for the football season.
“I’m anticipating playing Wolcott, week two, our home opener (on the new field),” Pompei said.
However, the track around the upper field and the lower field will still be under construction.
“We’ll still be working on baseball and softball. It’s a natural turf, so once it is seeded you need to stay off of it for two or three growing seasons in order for it to come in the way it’s supposed to come in,” Purcell said.
Pompei pointed out that this didn’t mean two or three years, but rather that it meant two springs and a fall.
During that time baseball and softball will hold practices and games at Breen Field. Since Breen has a limited number of fields, there will be no freshmen baseball team. Freshmen will play on the junior varsity level.
This construction and closing of the athletic fields will also affect middle school baseball and youth soccer since the high school will be using the same fields they use.
“Everyone is going to have to sacrifice. We have our eye on the prize,” Pompei said.
It is not just the sports with fields that will be affected, Pompei said.
Since the pool will be drained and under construction from April through October of this year, Pompei is working with Woodland Regional High School to arrange to have the girls and boys swim teams practice and hold meets there.
According to Region 16’s district office, the plan to use the pool at Woodland is still in the approval process.
This also means that there will be no community pool over the summer, Pompei said.
The project’s second phase will begin in February 2014 and include the administrative area, the new culinary area and the Castle section of the school.
Phase three will begin in June 2014 and include the auditorium, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps area and the southern part of the Judd section of the school.
Phase four will begin December 2014 and include the northern part of the Judd section of the school, the cafeteria and the Board of Education’s offices.
Purcell said working within the phases and staying on schedule was vital to the completion of the new high school.
The planned finish date for the project is October 2015.
“This is a very tight schedule. Every phase will impact the next phase if we have a schedule impact. So we have to stay on schedule,” Purcell said.
Heller questioned what would happen if there were severe weather events, such as a blizzard or hurricane, and how it would affect the timing of the project.
“We have the capability of absorbing a couple of days, but if you’re shut down for a week, a week is tough. A week is really hard to make up,” Purcell said.