Work almost ready to begin on Stonington elementary schools

Stonington — There will be a flurry of activity over the next few weeks as school officials get ready for the start of the long-awaited $67 million project to renovate Deans Mill and West Vine elementary schools.

Actual construction is expected to begin before the current school year ends on June 16. Students will return to school after Labor Day and the project is now slated for completion during Christmas break in 2018 instead of September of 2018.

A community meeting has been slated for 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, in the Stonington High School Commons to discuss the project schedule and phasing. Groundbreaking ceremonies are scheduled for June 5 at Deans Mill School and June 6 at West Vine Street School. Both start at 4:30 p.m.

The project, which has an aggressive timeline, originally was slated to begin in March but there has been a delay because of the requirements of the bidding and permitting process, according to K-12 School Building Committee Chairman Rob Marseglia. He said the committee has been very careful in analyzing and vetting bids to ensure they meet all requirements.

In addition, school officials are working with the Gilbane Building Co., the construction manager, to develop phasing of the project that involves the removal of asbestos floor tiles and windows that contain caulk with low levels of PCBs.

While the schools will remain open during construction, the committee and school officials do not want students and staff to be in the building when work is being done to remove those hazardous materials.

“We are committed to turning the school over to the town in the safest manner possible,” Marseglia said.

Marseglia said the need to remove potentially hazardous materials is not unexpected, as the schools are 50 years old and were constructed at a time when such materials were commonly used. Testing previously had revealed their presence.

In addition, he said, the committee’s goal is to minimize the disruption to students and learning and not use portable classrooms, if possible.

Meanwhile the K-12 School Building Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to approve the first round of bids for work such as site preparation, steel work and pouring foundations. The bids will then move on to the Board of Selectmen for final approval on Wednesday. If they are approved, Marseglia said crews can be mobilized by the end of the month.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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