Rowayton school construction on target for August completion date

Norwalk Building and Facilities Manager Alan Lo explains the Rowayton Elementary School construction plans last month.

NORWALK, Conn. – A framework for the future is emerging behind Rowayton Elementary School.

“We finished the foundation work and are in the process of putting up steel.  The building is beginning to take shape,” said Norwalk Building and Facilities Manager Alan Lo, of the $9 million project that is part renovation, part hazardous material remediation and the construction of four new classrooms, an art room, a music room and a new gymnasium. It’s expected to be done in mid-August.

This is being done while school is in session, of course. One facet of that challenge is the construction of temporary walls inside, separating the interior space of rooms used by school staff from the open space caused by demolition of bricks on the outer wall. That process has been painstaking and was done at night, Lo said.

Workmen remove a brick wall last month at Rowayton Elementary School.
Workmen remove a brick wall last month at Rowayton Elementary School.

The school grounds have been configured to provide a separate entrance for construction workers and machinery, so the children are isolated from the process.

Another facet of the challenge is that not all of the concrete has been poured. “Good portion of the slab has been poured, but we can’t pour any more because we have to demolish a portion of the existing gym to put in new footing and steel in order to make connection to the existing building,” Lo said.

The gymnasium will be closed in April and May.

“The existing gym exterior wall need to be removed and opened up as the new stage opening for the multi-purpose gym/auditorium,” Lo said. “This is a structural wall.  When we remove this wall, the building needs to be temporarily re-enforced.  This work, together with the reconstruction of the existing gym and other adjacent offices and rooms cannot be completed in a month and a half in the summer.  Therefore, we need to start the work in April.”

The children should have the use of the fields by the time the gym needs to be closed, Lo said.

Principal Sara Reilly said it’s worth the inconvenience. “We’re just eager to have this all happen so we’ll deal with the pain,” she said with a laugh, during a recent visit of Common Council members.

Reilly said that when she started 10 years ago there were 380 pupils. Now there are 460, she said. “We have grown by leaps and bounds,” she said.

The only problem with the construction has been the subgrade material,” Lo said. “We found these big boulders here. This whole area used to be fill. … They just filled this area with huge boulders so we have to take them out and crush them,” Lo said.

Those are pieces of ledge that have been blasted, he said.

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