A $2-million windows and doors replacement project at Weston Middle School is progressing on time and on budget.
“I’m really pleased with the contractors. They understand what they are up against. They’ve been very responsive,” said Town Administrator Tom Landry earlier this week.
What Secondino and Sons contractors are up against is an extremely compressed deadline. Because the work they are doing is not only disruptive, but also includes hazardous material abatement, no one is allowed in the building until they are done.
That means they have until Sunday, Aug. 26, just about five more weeks. School starts Monday, Aug. 27.
“They have a very, very tight schedule. Timing will be an issue,” Mr. Landry said.
But, so far so good.
Bill Knight, the town’s owner’s representative on the project, is on site every day and he said the work is on schedule thus far and things are going well overall.
The weather — hot, making it uncomfortable at times, but not impossible to work — has not been an issue, he said.
Also, all of the windows and doors have been assembled and delivered.
Mr. Landry said no change orders have been submitted, which means there are no unforeseen costs of which he is aware.
Mr. Knight said prep work began on June 18, and then construction started full tilt not long after school ended on June 21.
There are about 25 to 30 workers on site, working a 10-hour shift, followed by a crew of mostly abatement workers from Eagle Environmental at night — including a full-time environmental monitor — taking samples and doing material and air quality testing.
Hazardous PCBs were discovered in the window caulking and there is a small amount of asbestos, which turned the project into one that must be monitored by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mr. Knight said the samples have to be sent off site for testing, which takes some time, but the contractor is able to work in clear areas while other parts of the building are contained during testing.
Once the windows are replaced, Eagle will do more air testing to make sure the building is clear, Mr. Knight said.
Because federal regulations for PCBs are more vague than for other materials like asbestos, Mr. Knight said they are using the “most restrictive” standards they can just to be safe.
He expects that by the end of next week, the abatement process will be mostly complete and a full second shift of construction workers can come on site.
Many of the windows have been installed on the north side of the middle school. They are large-paned and slide open sideways to give maximum light and air flow in the classrooms, most of which are not air conditioned.
Mr. Knight said after all the windows and outside doors are replaced (concrete pads outside the doors will need to be redone on several entrances), then soil remediation needs to be done.
Workers will remove and replace about four inches of soil four feet out from the building to ensure no PCBs are in the ground.
Mr. Landry said the only snafu the project has experienced so far is the encapsulation paint that was used on the outside of the building when the windows were removed (meant to catch and contain the PCBs) is bright red.
“It’s ugly but we are working with it because we have to,” Mr. Landry said.
He explained the encapsulation paint they initially intended to use is clear. The EPA approved the plan back in February or March, but then just before work began, the agency said it was not familiar with the clear encapsulation material the town wanted to use.
“They gave us two choices,” Mr. Landry said. The town could either resubmit the project for EPA approval using the clear material — which would mean the project would not take place this year — or it could use the red material preapproved by the EPA.
Mr. Knight said after the windows are replaced and the testing is done, the encapsulation material will be covered with a primer of sorts, and then another paint that will more closely match the brick on the outside of the building.
There are already about five different finishes on the middle school, Mr. Landry said. “It’s pretty busy already. A basic design principle is when you have a lot going on like that, the last thing you want to do is add more.”