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Belmont's Wellington School project faces tight deadline

Posted by Derek McLean  July 6, 2011 04:03 PM

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Derek McLean

Belmont officials hope to have children in their seats at the new Wellington Elementary School by September, with construction workers racing a tight deadline to have the school finished by mid August.

Mark Haley, chairman of the Wellington School Building Committee, said he thinks the $39.5 million project, which began in February of 2010, will finish in time for the school year, but it is not guaranteed.

“In every school project, especially when you are running on a tight schedule, it is tough,” he said. “Two academic wings will definitely be done. The core area which includes the cafeteria, gymnasium, and administrative areas will be very tight.”
Belmont awarded Skanska USA, a sector of the international construction group
Skanska, the contract for the project. Skanska representatives were unavailable for comment.

“We think we will beat the schedule,” said Haley. “Right now we are pushing to have the entire school built by about mid August. That will give us time to set up the school for kids to start in September.”

In the interim, during construction, Wellington students have been learning at a modular classroom campus on the high school campus. “All 450 kids are down at modular classrooms at the High School,” said Haley.

Haley said the entire core area needs to be completed for kids to return to school. If the core area is not completed in time then the school will need to begin the year in the modular classrooms.

“We pushed the schedule to minimize the amount of time that they were not in their normal school building,” said Haley.

The project ran into difficulties after the installation of some air handling units on the roof. “There are six of them in total and when they were installed we had some issues relative to the roof screens around them. The roof screens are too close to the units,” said Haley.

The screens are used to minimize the amount of noise that impacts the neighborhood. The units began experiencing problems in March.

The contractors are modifying the doors to the units to get access. “When you went to swing the doors open you would come in contact with the screens,” he said. The contractors will install sliding doors to gain access to the screens and fix the problem.

So far two of the six units are up and running, the other four will start running as building construction progresses.

The town decided to replace Wellington school because it would be too difficult to renovate the building up to current codes.

Derek McLean can be reached at dbmclean1@gmail.com.

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