Despite rain, Massena school work on target

As school gets set to open, work is continuing on the Massena Central School District’s $49.6 million capital project. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Rain has played havoc with some of the work being done as part of the Massena Central School District’s $49.6 million capital project. But, officials say, the project as a whole is on schedule.

“I think if you travel around the district, you certainly see a lot of work’s going on at every single building. It’s coming together as we get ready to start the new school year,” Superintendent Patrick Brady told board of education members.

He said elementary school students will return to new playgrounds, and new roofs are in place.

“We have site work that you’re seeing out there that is going to create a safer atmosphere for each of our elementary schools and junior high,” Mr. Brady said.

He said some phase two work, which began this summer, has started at Jefferson Elementary School, but the building will be ready for opening on Friday. Work is also being done at Madison and Nightengale elementary schools.

“The idea is that they have to give up six rooms at a time so they can go in and do the HVAC and some of the other work that’s in phase two of the project,” Mr. Brady said.

In addition, work is continuing on baseball and softball fields, and the Central Administration Building’s parking lot is being replaced.

“We’re going to be in this for a little while. But it’s good work and we’re on target and we’re on schedule for the most part. We’re also on budget, which is good,” he said.

Patrick Hourihan, construction area manager for C&S Companies, the district’s construction management firm, said the weather has played a role in some of the work, such as the baseball fields. But contractors are working on weekends to stay on schedule.

“Rain is definitely having an impact on the ball fields,” he said. “The caveat to all this rain is wherever any contractors are delayed by rain, that’s kind of a domino effect.”

Mr. Hourihan and James Francesconi, senior project manager for C&S Companies, updated board members on progress being made at the schools, Central Administration Building and Shared Transportation Facility. Phase one, which started last summer, and phase two are being done simultaneously.

Among the phase one activities at the high school were the completion of pavement around the football field and installation of fence posts, as well as the placement of topsoil at the baseball field.

At Jefferson Elementary School, phase one work included site demolition, installation of underground utilities, installation of new light pole bases and installation of ornamental fencing.

Phase one work at Madison Elementary School has included the removal of old playground equipment and installation of new equipment with surfacing, completion of sidewalks and paving, and line striping at the parking lots.

New playground equipment has also been installed as part of phase one at Nightengale Elementary School.

Phase two work is also being done at the district’s buildings. At the high school, water and sewer line installation was ongoing and softball dugout foundations were completed.

Various rooms at Jefferson Elementary School, including in the 100 and 300 wings have been or will be turned over to contractors. Four rooms in the 300 wings were scheduled to remain offline when school starts, and the cafeteria will be used as swing space. That has pushed cafeteria kitchen work back one month.

At Madison Elementary School, renovations are scheduled to start next week, with C&S coordinating swing space with the building principal. Kitchen cafeteria work is anticipated to start in December after kitchen cafeteria work is completed at Jefferson, and renovations are expected to be completed in the spring.

Renovations at Nightengale Elementary School will start in the spring.

Edward Bernhauer, an architect for the IBI Group, the district’s architectural firm, reported on phase three progress. The project was submitted to the state Education Department in June and SED’s architectural and engineering reviews are currently in progress. He said they expected to put the work out for bid in the October or November time frame. That work at the high school, junior high school, Shared Transportation Facility and Central Administration Building will take place from June 2022 to fall 2023.

“I’m actually happy to report that we talked with the engineering reviewer earlier this week, and they picked up our projects much sooner than we anticipated,” Mr. Bernhauer said.

Mr. Brady said the district’s Capital Project Team continues to meet bi-weekly with the architect, construction manager and all contractors for phase one and two work to discuss progress and plan continuous work. They have also started weekly check-ins.

“This becomes particularly important as we prepare to open school and welcome the return of our students and staff,” he said.

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