Things are moving smoothly (and cheaply) enough on the new Guilford High School building project for planners to look forward to the 2014 baseball season and also reconsider a previously dropped proposal for a black box theater-a flexible rehearsal/performance space.
Site development is well underway, with two-thirds of the ground pad completed for the new structure and significant work currently being done on the new baseball field.
The building pad work has involved blasting on site. The earth and rock excavated is being processed on site, to be reused to fill the southern end of the pad area. All this work is a bit noisy and sometimes a little distracting, but everyone is faring well so far, explained Mary Beeman, the High School Building Committee communication subcommittee chairman.
The hope for the new baseball field is to have the irrigation system installed and the field planted this fall, with construction wrapping sometime this winter. The plan is to have things ready for the varsity baseball team to use for the 2014 spring season.
"There are a huge number of people working on the field right now. It should be ready to roll this spring," said Beeman.
"This is going to be one of the nicest fields in the state," explained committee member Todd Williams. "It will have large dugouts, a P.A. system, a media booth, storage in the dugouts so we don't need to have a shed, new scoreboards, and bleachers, as well as home and away bull pens and batting cages."
While the ballfield is taking shape quickly, those familiar with the project are able to see beyond the concrete and rock piles.
"It's very thrilling, at this point, walking the site, being able to actually envision where the school is going to be," added Beeman. "After three years of planning, it is finally coming to fruition and it's going well."
In addition to actual physical work, the Building Committee is still meeting on a bi-weekly basis to verify the project remains on track in regard to timelines and budget. At present, the project is slightly under budget, which has allowed for some lengthy discussions about returning the black box theater to the project. The square footage for black box theater space is not eligible for reimbursement through state funding.
The estimated cost for the theater is $1.2 to $2 million. Funding could come from the Owner's Contingency Fund, which holds more than five percent of the $92 million budget.
"If we decide to move forward with [the] black box theater, it will be used as a multifunctional room, as a break-out space for the Music Department, a lecture area, an extra rehearsal space, and more. It could end up being one of the busiest and most used rooms in the school," said Beeman.
"There is no rush in deciding about the black box theater at this point; we have time to take a breath and listen to the community before we need to make any decisions," added Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Freeman.
The Building Committee is now exploring classroom function in the new building.
"It makes sense at this point to be fitting out the school with high-quality furniture and finishes," said Freeman.
Some items that will now be included in the project as part of the add alternates are upgrades from vinyl floor tiles, which need a lot of maintenance in regard to waxing and buffing, to ceramic floor tiles, which will reduce custodial hours maintaining the building. In addition, a portion of hallway ceiling is being upgraded from the traditional white drop-down tiles to a wood finish, because wood ceilings don't stain or sag and won't need to be replaced like the white tiles. Also, on the exterior of the building, some of the areas that were going to be built with steel are going to be upgraded to copper, which is much more durable as well as aesthetically pleasing. And the last major upgrade is the increased size of the entryway canopy, which will now cover the entire courtyard area.
According to Beeman, "The construction manager is very happy about where we are right now for the entire project. Everything seems to be going smoothly, we are on budget, and as long as the weather cooperates, we should be fine with everything."