Waterford high school project nears spending limit

Waterford - The $68 million budget for the high school construction project is nearly maxed out, and it's up to the School Building Committee to determine which of the remaining projects will be completed.

"We can't exceed the budget," said Alan Wilensky, chairman of the committee. "The town voted to bond a maximum amount."

At the committee meeting Wednesday evening, the committee approved $236,877 in change orders. They have about $132,000 left to spend and a couple of big projects left, such as completing a sewer line. To make their budget less tight, they are hoping for some credits on design changes that involved the contractors or the architects making mistakes.

Of the $236,877 in changes, much of it has to do with the gym floor. The plan originally was to have a "rubberized" floor over the original concrete floor, but once the original floor was examined it was determined that it was not level and too thin, Wilensky said. The committee determined it would be cheaper to have a new wood floor as opposed to fixing the concrete floor and adding the rubberized floor. The new wood floor costs about $104,750.

Unanticipated costs happen, said Superintendent Jerome Belair. For example, last month they discovered that parts of the old high school that were being demolished contained asbestos, he said. So the cleanup for that increased the cost.

Other items in the change orders include a $5,391 locking device for an auditorium door. The locking device is supposed to prevent people at outside events from entering the side of the auditorium that is near the bridge. One committee member, Kimberly Alfuttis, voted against this change order and said it seemed like a "nice thing to have" rather than something they needed.

Some committee members also said they were concerned about the cost of placing the baseball field light pole foundations in the ground because it required rock drilling that cost $6,000 a day. But others said they had already looked at a variety of locations for the pole foundations and there were sewer pipelines that kept them from placing the poles elsewhere.

The committee was able to cut some costs by deciding not to include projects such as painting the maintenance building. Wilensky said they could have an in-house maintenance crew do the job instead of the contractor, who would have charged about $38,200.

There are also some items that were done incorrectly the first time around and are now costing more to fix. For example, handrails were put in and later determined to not meet the latest building codes. The correction will cost about $9,130. Committee member Tom Dembek said he expected that to be fixed free of charge because it was the contractor or architect who made the mistake.

Bill Ayles, an architect for Jeter Cook & Jepson, said it would all be negotiated.

During the public comment portion of the committee meeting, Dawn Boch, a parent of a Waterford High School student, said she was concerned about whether there would be a space for the 60-plus-person dance team.

Belair said they had been working on this since January and that their latest idea was to have a school bus take dance team participants to Clark Lane Middle School for practice. Boch said she was concerned that the students who weren't trained dancers and were just trying it out for fun wouldn't make the bus trip over.

"A school-based room in the long term would be best," she said.

Committee member Jody Nazarchyk said she was disappointed there wasn't a room for the dance team.

"I was under the impression the dance room would be next to the wrestler room," she said. "If wrestlers have a room, then dancers should have a room."

Belair said they would continue to explore options.

The high school is supposed to be completed in October minus some greenery planting in the spring, said Gus Kotait, construction manager for O&G Industries.

j.somers@theday.com

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