LEWIS CENTER — Construction of the Olentangy Local School District’s 16th elementary school is nearing completion, and during last week’s meeting of the OLSD Board of Education, an update was provided on the building’s progress.
Shale Meadows Elementary School, located just off Peachblow Road in the Berlin Meadows subdivision, will be open for the 2021-22 school year, giving the district badly needed additional classrooms as enrollment numbers continue to climb.
Bill O’Sullivan, the owner of Construction Analysis, said the remaining flooring in the school is just about completed, and the remaining paving around the school is expected to be completed next week. Life Safety Code testing, which serves as an evaluation of building features that minimize the effects of fire and related hazards, is also expected to be conducted next week. O’Sullivan said all of those aspects are still on track to be completed by July 1, which was the initial target date, and loose furnishing of the building is still expected to begin after July 4.
Telephone and fiber-optic lines have not yet been installed, but O’Sullivan said he is still hoping for them to be completed sometime this month. Perhaps the biggest portion still left to be completed is the off-site sewer system.
“Looked like the end of July, could get earlier, but the county is giving us different answers,” O’Sullivan said of the off-site sewage system. “We’re not sure yet exactly where that will fall, but it will be some time, it looks like, in the month of July.”
O’Sullivan said the Life Safety Code testing will result in, at best, a conditional permit until the off-site sewer is completed.
The completion of North Road, which will connect Shanahan Road and Peachblow Road, has been slowed by recent rainfall. While it was originally expected to be finished around the first week of July, O’Sullivan said the likely completion has been moved later into July. “Overall, we’re in good shape, but waiting for some of the off-site things to fall into place,” O’Sullivan concluded.
Addressing concerns expressed by Board President Julie Feasel about the off-site sewage, O’Sullivan said, “The good news is … one, it sounds as though the county is making good steps in getting the thing completed, and they’ve said some things that are very sound reasons that it sounds like it is getting close. There are two components to it. One, they have to finish the tie-in stuff. But the main thing is down on Hyatts Road, there’s a pump station down there, and that has to be completed in order to accept any effluent that goes down the gravity sewer to it. That’s the piece they have to get done.”
He added, “In the worst case, we had already set up a pumping truck to come and pump out the pump station that is on-site so that, in the worst case, we can continue to do that. So, the school will be operational. It’s just a question of which path we have to take to do it.”
Asked about the impact of the inflation being seen with building materials at the moment, O’Sullivan said it wasn’t seen so much with Shale Meadows but will certainly be felt with the construction of the middle school the district broke ground on three weeks ago. While lumber isn’t a significant component of the buildings, O’Sullivan said the increasingly rising costs of steel will impact future construction.
All in all, OLSD Superintendent Mark Raiff expressed great pleasure with how Shale Meadows has come along under O’Sullivan’s guidance, especially given the timeline with which it has been built.
“If we were starting Shale Meadows with the aggressive timeline we undertook now, with these current conditions, it never would have happened because of the lead times of the construction materials,” Raiff said. “It was the most aggressive timeline that we’d ever undertaken to get a school done, and there were some delays with the land donation and some of those things that didn’t help us. But you’ve got a great track record of on time and under budget.”
Following O’Sullivan’s update on Shale Meadows, Fanning Howey Chief Operations Officer Bruce Runyon provide an update on the development of Olentangy’s sixth middle school.
“The site work contractors are starting to mobilize,” Runyon said. “If you go by the site, you will see site work equipment that is getting ready. If Mother Nature will start to cooperate with us, we’ll start seeing some dirt getting moved next week, we hope. That’ll be the start of about 20-21 months of construction, we hope, that’ll get to us to opening the building for the school year starting in the summer and fall of 2023. It’s ready, it’s primed to go.”
The middle school will be located on Piatt Road, just south of Olentangy Berlin High School and north of Cheshire Elementary School. Runyon said of the site, “It’s a great site for a middle school. It’s a great campus when you tie it all together with Cheshire and Berlin High School. You’re making it an even better campus by connecting parts and pieces of the bike path that aren’t currently there along that road. It’ll tie in great with bike path access directly to the building, to the athletic fields, and then tie into the bike paths that will tie in all the way up to Berlin Station Road through Berlin High School.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.