New Roosevelt Elementary is on the way

Photo courtesy of Brian A. Pounds of the CT Post
February 22, 2015

The floor tiles are being installed, the lights are on, and last week the boilers were fired up in what soon will be the new Roosevelt Elementary School.

With a squabble over how many on-site parking spaces would be provided now settled, the $44.7 million project to bring a new 82,438-square-foot school building to the city's South End is back on track for completion this spring.

The city's School Building Committee was told late last week that the school -- one of several projects underway -- will be substantially completed by April.

"The only concern we have is the weather," said Larry Schilling, a project manager for O&G Industries, the company in charge of school building projects. Asphalt toppings for parking lots and playscapes will have to wait until the snow clears and the ground thaws, he said.

The school, which is not set to be occupied by students until the start of the 2015-16 school year, is a two-story building at Park Avenue and Prospect Street. It will have a multi-colored exterior facade and be big enough for 600 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

Noe Castro, a parent leader at the school, predicted the school will signal a new beginning.

"It will give us more space, something new," said Castro, whose daughter is in kindergarten. "Yeah we are excited and I hope we can build on it."

The school will also have a synthetic turf soccer field with lights, a feature added to the project by the mayor's office, and which ate into the number of available on-site parking spaces. Teachers and parents complained, and 12 more spaces were included in the plans and the city recently agreed to designate 18 on-street spaces around the perimeter of the school for school use.

The 12 new spaces added $113,631 to the project. A new 10-foot-high chain link fence to keep soccer balls from sailing from the new field into traffic on South Avenue is costing $34,325.

Jorge Garcia, director of public facilities for the city, said the school will still have use of a triangular spit of land across the street under the Interstate 95 overpass to park as many as 40 cars.

Altogether, the school will have 75 spaces at its disposal.

When the school opens, it will free up the swing-space school to become the permanent home of the Bridgeport Military Academy High School.

The city, which earlier this month opened an addition at Black Rock School, is also working to put a new roof on Bassick, make renovations to Dunbar School and start construction on a new $50.8 million Longfellow School. A contract is expected to be awarded shortly.

The same cannot be said for a major $86 million overhaul of Central High School. The project remains stalled as the city and state continue to argue over neighboring Kennedy Stadium.

Including it in the project would mean making the bleachers handicapped accessible. While the city seeks special legislation to exclude it, hopes of starting work this summer are fading.

In the meantime, Robert Hedman, an O&G project manager, said contractors are starting to file delay claims against the project.

Read the original story on the CT Post website.