While demolition goes on outside, work continues on the interior as the $65 million school is being readied to open for classes in September.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The "cold corridor" is a memory, and soon the rest of the former academic spaces at Mount Greylock Regional School will follow in its wake.
Demolition is well underway at the Cold Spring Road campus, where Holyoke's American Environmental has taken the lead on tearing down the two classroom wings that have been replaced by a three-story addition as part of the school district's $64 million building project.
On Thursday, Superintendent Kimberley Grady and Turner Construction's Mike Giso led a media tour to look at the work in progress, focusing on both the demo to the south and east of the new school's central core and the nearly move-in ready classrooms in the addition.
About 50 percent of the interior of the 1950s- and '60s-era classroom wings has been abated and is ready to be torn down, Giso said.
"The middle school wing is pretty much done on the inside as far as abatement," he said. "By the end of September or early October, the building will be down."
As American Environmental's Eric Bearce tore down parts of the building with a backhoe, Giso explained that although demolition will continue well into the start of the school year that begins Sept. 6, dust-control measures will be in place to make sure that campus is safe for students inside and outside the school.
And as Bearce ripped through brick and twisted metal, a mister sprayed his work area and maintained a comfortable environment for the observers just a stone's throw away.
Grady pointed out that Smith and Wessel Associates of Spencer, the district's environmental monitor, is on site regularly ensuring that construction activities do not present a hazard.
A busy site it was on the mid-July morning as crews continued paving in the parking lot, cleaning out the old classroom wing, tiling the cafeteria floor, installing a ceiling in the entrance foyer and myriad other tasks.
Both Giso and Grady emphasized that the project remains on track. Giso said that the demolition is on schedule if not a little ahead of schedule and that American has not had any of the manpower issues that have hampered the project at other stages.
"As of right now, [owner's project manager] Dore and Whittier and Turner are indicating that we are on schedule to move in on time to open school on Sept. 6," Mount Greylock Transition Committee Chairman Joe Bergeron told his colleagues at their meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
Grady told the Transition Committee — the district's de facto school committee until a new slate is elected in November — that the district is looking at dates with the Massachusetts School Building Authority for a celebratory ribbon cutting in October.
"When you start talking about ribbon cutting, you know you're close to the end," Grady said.
On Thursday, Grady said the district is anticipating securing a temporary certificate of occupancy for the new school in mid-August.
It is common for a project like the new Mount Greylock to open with a temporary certificate and obtain the full certificate of occupancy after finishing touches and landscaping are completed, Grady told the Transition Committee.
She said Thursday she is waiting to schedule the walk-through for a TCO with the town's building inspector until the district receives the furnishings it needs for the school's new media center. The building inspector will want to see the shelving and other library furnishings in place before he can do his inspection.
The media center looks to be one of the last academic spaces to be wrapped up. Giso said Thursday that the three-story academic wing is "98 percent" complete from a construction standpoint.
Once a certificate is in hand and the parking lot is complete, in late August, the school will welcome back teachers to begin setting up their classrooms, Grady said. At the moment, all the classroom materials that teachers boxed up in the spring are sitting in the school's gymnasium.
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