Sewer lines and storm drains are being installed at the site of the new Powers Elementary School this week.
Herk Excavating of Vermilion has early prep work well in hand and soil stabilization is next on the punch list, according to Amherst Schools building and ground supervisor Chuck Grimmett.
Heavy rains this past weekend didn’t significantly slow efforts on South Lake Street, he said. Wet or not, the soil there isn’t suitable to support the weight of the new PK-5 school, so it will be mixed with aggregate and concrete. Next, piers will be rammed down toward the bedrock to provide more stability.
“We don’t want any cracks in the foundation, so this ensures us stable ground to build on,” Grimmett said.
Plumbing and electrical groundwork will be tackled next. Both are part of bidding being handled by the general contractor, Icon Construction, and will be opened April 24.
About 25 to 30 firms showed up to express interest in portions of the Powers project. Once bids are reviewed, awards will be made for roofing, finish carpentry, HVAC, and other specific work.
In the meantime, Amherst building inspector David Macartney said a full set of plans has been received by his department. That’s unusual — most projects provide stormwater, electric, fire suppression, and other schematics separately.
Grimmett said the district and architects at GPD Group are interested in moving quickly and submitted all plans in one package to ensure an August 2019 opening of the new school.
The city’s engineers are reviewing the plans now, said Macartney. Once the project is underway, he’ll be responsible for inspecting all aspects of the new school.
Electricity has already been installed for contractor trailers at the new Powers site and Icon has personnel on hand daily, Grimmett said.
By the third week of May, Amherst residents may see the foundations begin to be poured. That’s the same week district officials hope to hold a groundbreaking ceremony, symbolically turning over earth with silver shovels.
“We’re working on the festivities now,” Grimmett told us, his voice excited.
The plan is to move students into the building for the 2019-2020 school year. The new school is expected to save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in utilities, shared personnel, and other efficiencies.
It will also obviate mounting repair costs at the old Powers Elementary, which will be demolished next summer. The former Harris and Shupe elementaries have already been torn down using state cash.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.