New school project ‘under budget and on time’
PROSPECT — When the question was posed on how construction of the new Prospect Elementary School was progressing, Region 16 Board of Education member Robert Hiscox answered quickly and succinctly.
“Under budget and on time,” responded Hiscox, who is also a member of the school building committee overseeing the region’s three-part building project.
Hiscox’s answer came as he sat May 23 with interim Superintendent of Schools Gail Gilmore and project engineer Phil Mazzatti, from Turner Construction Company, in the trailer office on the New Haven Road school site. The sounds and sights of progress were impossible to miss, as outside of the trailer’s walls workers were busy erecting the steel skeleton of the new school.
Six months have passed since the project broke ground. The foundation for the school in nearly complete — there was one final slab of concrete to pour this week Mazzatti said. The mason is beginning to build a mock wall to vet any issues before the real school walls are built. All of the site utilities, such as drainage, are in place, and the parking lots are beginning to take shape, he said.
Mazzatti credited the work of the Richards Corporation out of Terryville, which was awarded a $5.6 million contract for the site work, excavation and landscaping, for pushing through a tough winter.
All of the steel is expected to be erected by the end of June, Mazzatti said. But before the last two beams are put in place, a “topping off” ceremony will be held as a way to incorporate students into the project.
Students from Community and Algonquin schools in Prospect will sign the last two beams, and then a ceremony will be held at the site when the beams are erected, Mazzatti said.
The goal is for the school to be “water-tight,” when the outside is finished and work then moves into the building, by Halloween, Mazzatti said.
Mazzatti said the project has not run into any major issues.
“So far, the unforeseen has been minimal,” he said.
When it’s all said and done, the school’s footprint will be 67,000 square feet and it will have 88,000 square feet of space, Mazzatti said. The school is scheduled to be completed in May of 2015 and open for the 2015-16 school year.
“We’re very pleased with the progress,” Hiscox said.
Gilmore added officials are very appreciative of the work Turner Construction is doing as the project’s construction manager.
Officials are also pleased with how the budget for the new school project is shaping up.
Construction of the new school was estimated to cost about $28 million. Mazzatti said the project is currently $1.7 million under budget, not including a $1.7 million contingency budget built into the project.
The new school, which will replace Community and Algonquin schools, is the largest part of a three-pronged building project. In December 2011, voters in Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, approved bonding up to $47.5 million for the project. The district will be reimbursed by the state about 68 percent on eligible costs.
As the new school moves along, officials can now finally turn their focus to moving forward with the renovation project at Laurel Ledge School in Beacon Falls.
The Laurel Ledge project, which includes building corridors to connect the buildings at the campus-style school, was significantly delayed due to conflicts over a local review of the plans. The local review is now complete, officials said, and the district is waiting for the state to sign off on the plans.
Officials expect to go out to bid in early June and have a shovel in the ground by early July. The work at Laurel Ledge is scheduled to be complete by September 2015, which means construction will be occurring while school is in session next year.
The focus now is working with Laurel Ledge Principal Regina Murzak and building officials in Beacon Falls to develop a construction plan that will maximize safety and minimize disruption for students and the surrounding neighborhood, officials said.
Mazzatti compared the work at Laurel Ledge to a contractor going into someone’s home. He said construction crews want to be respectful.
“A commercial building is no different,” he said.
The Laurel Ledge project includes a number of add alternates, such as air conditioning for the gymnasium and new roofs, that are not included currently in the project. If there’s money left over from the new school project some of those funds could be used for the alternates. However, much will depend and what the bids for the Laurel Ledge project come in at.
These bids will also play a large role in determining the final piece of the project — a new district office.
The new district office will be built on the Algonquin School site. How it will be built remains to be seen as officials are waiting for the Laurel Ledge bids to come in before finalizing the designs for the office.