School construction contract awarded
April 28, 2008
By Siobhan A. Counihan

WOODBURY The city board of education has awarded contracts for the demolition and construction to take place at Walnut Street School this summer, as designed by Garrison Architects of Mt. Laurel..

The school board awarded a $785,000 contract to Sewell-based W.J. Gross the lowest qualified bidder out of five bids that were submitted for the demolition of the 1889 portion of the school building.

The company will also shore up the remaining portion of the school and refinish the rooms that are affected, according to school business administrator Kara Huber.

"It's basically chopping off a piece of the building," she said. "Because we're not replacing it, they'll put up a new wall (on the outside)."

The school board also awarded a contract for asbestos removal, since some of the potentially hazardous insulation material remains in the portion of the building to be demolished, Huber said.

That contract for $16,790 was awarded to Spring House, Pa.-based Controlled Environmental Systems, the lowest qualified bidder out of eight bids.

Huber said the projects both attracted competitive bids. However, the lowest bidder on the demolition project which came in well under the other bids had to withdraw because they "didn't understand the scope of the work," Huber said.

In January, the school board recommended that the oldest portion of the school be demolished and not be replaced. Officials said that was the most fiscally responsible of four plans presented by Garrison Architects.

The 1889 section of the building has been closed off since August, when architects discovered significant structural concerns. Since then, classes for the school's 108 students have been restricted to the newer portion of the building, built in 1927.

Huber said the asbestos removal is scheduled to begin June 19 or 20, immediately after classes end for the summer. The construction/demolition phase will begin as soon as the asbestos removal project, which should take approximately one week, is complete, she added.

The school board had originally hoped the project would be completed during the district's 10-week summer break, but Huber said a shortage and backlog of steel would likely delay the project.

"We expect to have the project to a place that will not affect the opening of school," Huber said.

Huber said the school would open on schedule, and any ongoing renovations will be blocked off. Because that portion of the school has been blocked off for most of the year, Huber said it "shouldn't be any different than what the kids are already used to."

The district hopes the project will be completed soon after the school year begins, she added.


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