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School springing up

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NORTH RIDGEVILLE — A run of unusually warm weather has proved a boon for construction laborers whose daily efforts are giving shape to the school district’s new $58.1 million middle school.

School officials sat down to discuss progress of the huge project Thursday with Icon of Cleveland, a firm that specializes in school construction, and is serving as construction manager for the job, which includes a 4,500-seat sports stadium and related amenities.

“Things are right on schedule and Mother Nature has a lot to do with that,” according to William Greene, assistant superintendent for business services. “We’re talking about a forecast in the near future that is unusually warm, and Icon said they are planning to work crews overtime into this weekend.”

The National Weather Service office in Cleveland is calling for 40 percent chances of rain today rising to 80 percent Sunday, with highs of about 65 today, 67 Sunday, and 60 Monday.

“This kind of weather is unheard of,” Greene said. “You can’t buy this weather, so they might as well work the guys while we have it.”

The unseasonably mild conditions have seen a larger-than-anticipated number of plumbers, electricians, masons, pavers, and other tradespeople on the 35-acre construction site immediately west of North Ridgeville High School and Wilcox Elementary School.

“There are absolutely more of them on site than there would have been otherwise,” Greene said.

Assuming workers will be able to remain on the site for a few more weeks or longer, the long-term timetable for the project, particularly the $4.5 million stadium, looks good.

“Once spring is here, they should be able to go full tilt to build the stadium we’ll be playing in in August,” Greene said.

The new athletic facility will coincide with North Ridgeville’s entry into the newly configured Southwestern Conference.

The stadium originally was slated to be built for this year’s football season but was pushed back for a number of reasons, including a change in construction managers for the entire project.

Icon was selected in June to succeed Regency-Infinity, a joint venture of firms in Lakewood and Cleveland first chosen by the school district to oversee construction of the new school and stadium.

Regency-Infinity withdrew after an agreement could not be reached with the school system on a guaranteed maximum price for the project.

In addition, the project right now is an estimated $2 million below its bid of $53.89 million.

“We’re doing well, but that is a cautious estimate as there are still unknowns we could run into if we hit rock or poor soil conditions while doing sanitary sewers and that type of thing,” Greene said. “That cushion could get eaten up pretty quickly.”

Because the milder weather will eventually disappear as the area moves deeper into winter, officials are talking about being able to “envelope” parts of the building to allow work to continue during the winter months.

A crane is slated to be at the site Monday to begin moving steel into place for the gymnasium roof, as well as support for flooring of a second story to be built above the gym.

“Once that’s taken care of, they can put plastic around and begin enveloping those areas,” Greene said.

A camera being installed at the construction site will soon enable anyone visiting the school district’s website at www.nrcs.k12.oh.us to watch work as it occurs, which will house grades three through eight, according to Greene.

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