Robert Mitchell, chairman of the Newtown Public Building and Site Commission (PBSC), said his panel heard and discussed new information regarding the ongoing remediation and demolition plans for Sandy Hook School during a meeting held on October 22. Speaking to The Newtown Bee following the meeting, Mr Mitchell said preliminary demolition was set to commence on Thursday, October 24.
He said the work will progress along a planned course based on which areas of the vacant facility are already clear of hazardous materials, and which sections will be fully remediated by crews from Connecticut-based Bestech. That company is handling both the remediation and demolition based on a state recommendation.
Mr Mitchell also heard from representatives of both the engineering and design firms who had representatives at Tuesday’s meeting. Mike Walker and Aaron Kruger from Consigli Construction, Julia McFadden and Jay Bratman from Svigals & Partners, and Geralyn Hoerauf from Diversified Project Management were all on hand to present to and answer questions from the PBSC.
Mr Mitchell said he confirmed for the record that even members of his commission cannot visit the site without prior approval through Clerk of the Works William Knight or Mr Kruger. Mr Kruger told commissioners that several people have already tried to gain access to the site and were turned away, except those who had prior approval from First Selectman Pat Llodra.
Besides signing a nondisclosure agreement before entering the site, all contract workers must surrender their cellphones every day for the duration of the time they are on the demolition site. He said that as many as three security guards are on site at any given time.
Mr Mitchell said Ms Hoerauf outlined how the project is phased into six pieces for the purpose of review by state agencies playing a role in the project or its funding. She said the assessment of any hazardous material by a town environmental vendor and all related abatement of those materials will be Phase I.
Mr Mitchell reiterated that the state has been working exceptionally well with the town to expedite the project.
According to Ms Hoerauf, Phase II will be the demolition of the building by Bestech, while Phase III involves the installation of a new driveway, site access, and site utilities.
Mr Mitchell said part of the rear of the structure, facing Crestwood Drive, would be left standing to serve as a visual shield from anyone who might try to view or photograph activity from private homes or property on that cul-de-sac directly adjacent to the demolition site.
Phase IV would involve the construction of the new building; Phase V is the installation of all furniture, fixtures, or other equipment (FF&E) that are have no permanent connection to the structure of the building or utilities; and Phase VI is the installation of playground equipment.
Mr Mitchell said the demolition scheduled to start October 24 will be confined to areas where there is minimal or no abatement. These have been designated as Areas 1 and 2 encompassing the kindergarten wing, library and modular building. Area 3 at the front of the building is being abated now, and Area 4 demolition will be completed on or about December 6 according to the PBSC chairman.
He said all the crushed concrete and block material will be mixed with fill and be used to backfill the excavated footing areas. All demolished steel is being hauled directly to a facility in a neighboring community to be mixed with other steel and melted down.
Mr Mitchell assured that nothing identifiable as being from the project will leave the site, and that a security detail would accompany debris to the smelting site where specifically manifested items would be destroyed. Other pieces of debris containing hazardous materials would receive similar treatment if it has to be trucked off site without being pulverized for fill.
He added that a portion of the school’s flagpole will be salvaged, as well as bricks that could be used for future use in the project area.
Also, the dinosaur tracks in the school courtyard — two sets of dinosaur tracks in standstone that were donated by the State of Connecticut a few decades ago, each measuring approximately five feet high by six feet wide, approximately six to eight inches thick, with very evident tracks — will be removed on October 25 and stored in the Public Works Garage.
Mr Mitchell said a preliminary time capsule search began Tuesday will continue Wednesday, but if nothing is found there will likely be no further efforts to locate the artifacts that have been buried on school grounds over the years by students.
Ms Hoerauf told the PBSC that the design phase is beginning during the demo and abatement phase, and the design team is developing and expanding on the Education Specification. She said staff is being interviewed and are part of an advisory group to PBSC.
Ms Hoerauf said there will be four workshops for the advisory group with Svigals + Partners with members of the community. Those meetings are planned with members of the business support organization SHOP, the Sandy Hook PTA, and Newtown Sustainable Energy Commission.
Mr Mitchell told the commission that he will complete a potential fee and construction cost spread sheet covering the next quarter for submission to the state for bonding, and he asked Consigli, Svigals, and Diversified for their input on a monthly basis through March 2014.
He also said joint meetings are planned with the Board of Education and his commission on issues requiring approval of both boards. These might include design presentations as they progress, he added.
“It’s very interesting to see how much involvement the contractors are seeking to get a bearing on community philosophy as they work on developing both the look and use of the new facility,” Mr Mitchell said.