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Maloney renovations continue as classes start up again

MERIDEN — Students and teachers arriving at Maloney High School this week will see some major changes underway to the school’s landscape, but they are not expected to be heavily impacted by the constant construction happening just outside the school windows.

Since students and faculty departed Maloney for the summer, construction crews have been busy tearing apart the land to the north of the school and reshaping it to prepare for a new classroom wing. The landscaping is just a small part of the $107.5 million renovations happening at Maloney over the next three-plus years.

“The steel should be going up in November-ish,” Gilbane Inc. general supervisor Don Bureau said optimistically, Tuesday, while looking over the grounds.

Bureau alluded to the construction of the four-story wing that will have three floors of classrooms and one for building maintenance features. In total, the first phase of the project will be 76,300 square feet of space, including a bridge that connects to the current building. It is expected to take close to a year to build, and will replace the existing wing in the northwest section of the school.

The grounds on the north end of the school have been reduced to dirt, with piles of gravel and large rocks scattered in preparation of building a new foundation.

While the wing is being built and the ground is being landscaped with multiple retaining walls, students at Maloney are expected to be hardly impacted, said Principal Jennifer Straub. Hired close to the end of the school year to be the school’s new full-time principal, Straub said she has been in close contract with officials at construction management firm Gilbane.

“I’m not worried...We talk frequently,” Straub said on a walk-through of the site, Tuesday.

As school and construction officials walked around the area, large dump trucks and excavators drove back-and-forth across the site. The sight should be the norm for the next few years at the school.

Students will not be allowed on the grounds of the construction area and signs will be placed before school begins, but getting a glimpse should not prove to be difficult through the windows of the north end of the school. For now, it is the only area of the school where work is happening.

Construction is currently happening between the building and the school’s baseball field. Though the backstop has been removed, a new one is already being constructed, along with a fence along the side of the field., said Jae Chu, of Gilbane.

“We have to get ready for baseball season,” Chu said, noting its start in March. “We have to get this up. It protects the new building because the field going to be very close to the new building.”

Like the current Maloney building, much of the classroom wing will be filled with windows, though they will be brand new.

The school’s field house and tennis courts have been completely removed. Tennis courts are expected to be built toward the end of the project on a northwest area of the school, along with additional parking. The field house will operate out of the bottom floor of the new classroom wing.

The biggest change staff members will experience, other than the potential for construction noise outside of the building, is a new parking location. A temporary lot has been constructed to the northwest of the Maloney property where trees and a house once stood. The city purchased the property, along with another house for the project. Gilbane is currentl using the house that was not demolished as an office space until it is expected to be demolished next year.

Once the new classroom wing is completed, Bureau said construction crews will begin on the second phase of the project. The second phase includes the renovation of an eastern section of the school to create a freshman academy.

Though there is some additional new construction after the completion of the new wing, most of the project will include putting up a new facade, renovating the interior, putting on a new roof, and further landscaping improvements.

The work underway now is secluded, Bureau said, not needing too much coordination with school officials, thought it is expected to change in the future.

“This is clean and isolated with a fenced perimeter,” Bureau said. “Eventually, we will be moving in and needing more coordination, and involvement with the school.” 203-317-2266 Twitter: @DanBrechlinRJ

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