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Akron School Board considering additions to capital project

The Akron Board of Education is considering several "enhancements" to the $25 million capital project that is expected to be completed by December 2010.

The board was updated Wednesday on several aspects of the project by representatives of LP Ciminelli, project engineers, and Wendel Duchscherer, architects and engineers. The changes involve new construction and renovations to the school complex on Bloomingdale Avenue.

David R. Vawter of Ciminelli said the project is 18 percent complete, with Phase II going out to bid in January. He said work on the new gymnasium will begin Sept. 15 now that the structural steel is in place and is expected to be completed by June 2010. And structural steel is expected to arrive on site Oct. 1 for the new classroom addition in the old courtyard and by November for the new front entrance.

Jennifer Hill of Wendel Duchscherer discussed possible improvements to the high school auditorium, including new stage curtains, lighting and refurbished seating. Vawter said refurbishing the existing 1,000 upholstered wood seats would cost about $115 to $120 each compared with $200 each for new plastic seats.

Other proposed enhancements include reconstruction of the retaining wall near the gym for an estimated $481,000 and adding a ramp to the gym to accommodate the disabled. The 40-foot ramp is estimated at $75,000.

Superintendent Robin Zymroz said the changes would require board approval.

Also needing board approval is a proposal to have repairs to the school complex's chimney "processed as an emergency repair" to expedite the work, according to Hill. The repairs are estimated at $80,000. If the state Education Department grants the district "emergency status," the work could be done without going to bid.

Hill said, "We hired a consultant to inspect the existing chimney and report on what is needed. . . . it's not dangerous now, but we want to ensure that it doesn't get worse." Officials are concerned that some temporary work be done as soon as possible to stabilize the chimney before winter.

A resolution on the chimney work may be acted on at the board's Sept. 23 meeting.

Arthur V. Traver III, a landscape architect with Wendel Duchscherer, gave a lengthy explanation of options on renovating the existing retaining wall that encompasses three sides of the gym area. The 1930s-era dry-stack wall has bulged in some areas due to lack of drainage and has a few missing stones.

In noting the "community interest" in retaining the stone wall in front of the gym, Traver said it could be reconstructed using stone salvaged from dismantling the entire wall. Traver noted it would be "an artisan project to put the wall together" again using original stone.

And he said there would not be enough salvaged stone to replicate the entire wall, only the area at the front, which borders the parking lot.

Once the entire wall is dismantled, drain pipe would be installed at the bottom and other materials would be used to improve drainage, Traver said.

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