Exercise Science Center construction postponed

BRIDGEPORT — Construction of the Raymond Stewart Exercise Science Center inside the Bridgeport Exempted Village School complex is being delayed until spring.

Gus Kayafas of Kayafas Architects of Wheeling made the proposal to postpone construction of the more than $400,000 project to members of the district’s board of education during its regular meeting last week. He cited several reasons, with added construction costs during the winter months and less interference with the school day topping the list.

Kayafas said in a letter to the board that details of the construction documents and various engineering aspects are now in progress. “Due to the delay in acquiring the flood plain appeal, our schedule along with our consultants created a bottleneck with other projects that had to be completed. We anticipate the drawings and bidding specifications will be completed by mid-November,” he wrote.

“The drawings then can be sent out for bid and to the state simultaneously and construction could commence in December and continue through February,” he said. “Although construction projects continue all year long in this area, the drawbacks to this construction period are the cold weather climate, snow and various associated messes, and the added costs for winter protection.

“The option to start construction in the spring of 2018 is very appealing,” he continued. “Bidding could occur in late January, with bids due in February and construction commencing April 1.”

The board unanimously accepted his proposal.

“We just ran into a situation where the variance granted by the Belmont County Flood Appeals Board took a little time and we don’t want to rush the project. We know the project will turn out to be a fantastic addition to the school. It will benefit students and staff for generations to come,” Superintendent Zac Shutler said. “Knowing that, we thought it was better to be prudent with the project and make sure we do it right and make sure we talk to all the stakeholders.

“We also need to make sure we have all the right equipment for the room when it’s built,” Shutler added. “A little slower approach will avoid the winter construction and added costs, as well as the mess that comes with it. That’s an added bonus.

“We all know that good things take time and this is one of those projects that is going to take a little more time than we had planned, but the lasting benefit will make us forget about how long it took. We’ll just remember how good it is for the school.”

Kayafas said he would like to set up meetings with all the various stakeholders, including the fitness program coordinator, in order to fine tune some of the requirements relating to the educational components of the space such as intercom, data, etc.; white or dry erase board, video or TV; acoustics; seating and student work spaces; special equipment criteria requiring power; and specialty flooring considerations and finishes with maintenance staff.

He said if construction gets started in early April it should be completed by the start of the 2018-19 school year.

“That’s our goal,” he said.

The approximately 2,000-square-foot structure will be built in the courtyard adjacent to the cafetorium. It is the result of a donation by Stewart, an alumnus who went on to be a very successful patent attorney in Washington, D.C.