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Large Delays Expected in PHS Construction

Candace Braun

Completion of new construction at Princeton High School is expected to be delayed six or seven months from the original plan, the Princeton Regional School Board announced on Friday.

The High School construction, part of the district's $81.3 million construction project on all six schools, is now scheduled for completion in either June or July 2005. New construction was initially scheduled for completion by December 2004, with renovations to be completed by October 2005. However construction workers have fallen behind schedule.

"Our goal at this point, since we're so early in the project, is to recognize problems and get back on track," said Michael Mostoller, facilities chairman for the Board.

A meeting between members of the Board and representatives of Ernest Bock & Sons, the high school's contractor, was held recently to discuss the reasons for delay and to get the schedule back on track.

Construction was delayed due to a lengthy wait for approval of construction drawings, and a gas leak at the end of April, contractors told the Board. But construction is moving along more smoothly now, with the foundation expected to start going in this week, said Mr. Mostoller.

"We are much more pleased about progress since our last meeting," said the chairman at the Board's monthly facilities meeting on Friday.

A call made to a representative of Ernest Bock & Sons was not returned to Town Topics before deadline.

Gary Weisman, the Board's facilities director, confirmed that work is moving at a more favorable pace now. Site preparation, earth moving, and demolition have been taking place at the high school since the Board met with contractors, he said: "We have a good indication that things are picking up again."

While still unsure of exact completion dates for the high school, Mr. Mostoller said that next summer is now a more realistic goal.

"These are 'guesstimates' in a sense; we can try to improve them," he said.

The expected completion of renovations on the high school is now seen to be closer to December 2005, said School Board President Anne Burns.

Projects Moving Forward

While high school construction has fallen behind, work at John Witherspoon Middle School seems to be moving ahead at a steady pace.

"[Workers] are doing really well," said Mr. Mostoller. "They should be finished up with [new construction] very soon."

The new pool may be available for use this summer, and the new academic wing should be finished way before the start of classes in the fall, he said.

But renovations will continue into the 2004-2005 school year, said the chairman.

Renovations of Community Park and Johnson Park Elementary Schools are also moving ahead. Both schools should be issued a temporary certificate of occupancy in the near future, said Mr. Mostoller. Once these are issued, students and faculty may begin using the facilities.

"They won't get their permanent certificate of occupancy until renovations are done in July ... By fall [the schools] should be fully up and running," said Mr. Mostoller.

Littlebrook and Riverside Elementary Schools, however, are running a month behind schedule.

After meeting with contractors and addressing concerns, the Board hired a new job manager for the project, and the work is moving ahead at a steadier pace, he said: "This month's report is pretty positive."

New construction at the schools should still be completed by the end of June, with renovations finished by the end of July.

All new construction on the middle school and elementary schools should be done in time for the start of school in the fall, said the facilities chairman.

The Board's facilities committee will hold a meeting on Friday, July 30, to determine what steps need to be taken to make sure all schools are ready to open on September 9.

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