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PHOTO — City and school leaders and state officials throw shovels of dirt Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 22, to mark the symbolic groundbreaking of the city’s new $129.9 million, state-of-the-art West Haven High School at 1 McDonough Plaza. From left, state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, state Rep. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven, Mayor Edward M. O’Brien, Superintendent of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro, Board of Education Chairman James W. Morrissey, West Haven High School Building Committee Chairman William Sapienza, committee Vice Chairman Richard Shea, committee Secretary and West Haven High Principal Pamela B. Gardner, Antinozzi Associates President Paul Antinozzi, and David O’Brien, Sumedha Chowdhury and Julia Walker, student representatives to the Board of Education. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)
WEST HAVEN, Aug. 22, 2017 — City and school leaders and state officials threw shovels of dirt Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 22, to mark the symbolic groundbreaking of the city’s new state-of-the-art West Haven High School at 1 McDonough Plaza.
To the sound of applause from an enthusiastic gathering of residents, students and teachers at the main entrance loop, Mayor Edward M. O’Brien and Superintendent of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro officially — and finally — broke ground on the $129.9 million high school construction project, which has been nine years in the making.
As work continued on parts of the school getting the sidewalks and parking areas ready for the start of classes, the 15-minute ceremony featured remarks from O’Brien and Cavallaro and included dozens of city and school officials, such as members of the City Council, Board of Education and West Haven High School Building Committee, as well as state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, state Reps. Dorinda Borer and Michael A. DiMassa, D-West Haven, and members of the project team.
“As the father of a current West Haven High School student and a West Haven High School graduate, I understand that our students deserve the best possible education, and that starts with having the best facilities,” O’Brien said after the groundbreaking.
“Our teachers should not have to worry about building maintenance issues getting in the way of teaching their students,” O’Brien said. “A new and improved high school ensures they can focus all of their attention on educating our children.”
He added, “The new high school preserves the entire shops program, allowing our students to gain hands-on experience and have more choices for their future.”
Cavallaro said: “This state-of-the-art facility is going to be good not only for our students and staff but for the entire community of West Haven. We will do everything we can to make sure students will not be disturbed during the construction.”
Slossberg added: “Thank you to the building committee and everyone who worked on this project, particularly the mayor. We look forward to the ribbon-cutting when the project is completed on time and underbudget.”
Borer said, “We know when a lot families are looking to move into a community, the first thing they look at is the education, and West Haven will have a competitive, state-of-the-art facility.”
Designed by Antinozzi Associates of Bridgeport to accommodate 1,450 students, plans for the future high school include renovating about 98,000 square feet of the existing building, demolishing the remainder, and adding just over 168,000 square feet of new construction. The total finished project has an area of 265,959 square feet, officials said.
The completed school will offer a cutting-edge media center, advanced STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — classrooms and laboratories, and upgraded public areas for the school and community. It will also offer enhanced access and security and lower maintenance and operating costs.
The existing building, built in 1960, encompasses 298,000 square feet and serves 1,500 students. The brick structure received limited system updates and accessibility upgrades in 1968, 1985, 1991, 1995, 2000 and 2005, officials said.
The 22-acre campus is divided by Educational Way and bounded on the north by Edward L. Bennett Rink, to the east by Painter Avenue, and to the west by the Cove River.
While the high school pool is excluded from the project, plans call for removing an existing covered walkway and adding perimeter sidewalks, parking and site grading.
O’Brien and Cavallaro said the project’s construction phase, also known as Phase III, will consist of three major “subphases” to allow the school to offer a full academic curriculum throughout the project.
Gilbane Building Co. of Glastonbury is the project’s construction manager, with Amar Shamas serving as the project executive. The Capitol Region Education Council of Hartford, or CREC, is overseeing the construction financing, with Elizabeth Craun serving as the construction program manager.
The state’s reimbursement rate is 75.36 percent, and state officials have been working closely with the team to make the project a success, Craun said.
The City Council recently adopted a bonding ordinance worth $133.25 million to finance West Haven’s portion of the project cost.
Craun said the construction phase is expected to begin in April 2018 and take about three years to complete, with a projected occupancy of new spaces in fall 2019 through 2021. Site restoration work is expected to continue until spring 2022, she said.
The project’s first subphase includes constructing the food services, building services, tech-ed shops, media center, auditorium, music and arts classrooms, and administrative offices to permit the transferal of building uses, thereby opening other parts of the existing building for renovation or demolition.
During the fall, crews are expected to complete a temporary space for tech-ed shops in the existing auxiliary gym to clear the way for the environmental abatement and demolition of the existing G wing in early 2018.
The second subphase calls for renovating the existing eastern three-story building after demolishing the existing cafeteria and media center.
The third subphase includes demolishing the existing auditorium and music spaces, renovating the northern wing of academic spaces, and demolishing the existing gym and southern academic building.
When complete, the new high school will incorporate two buildings, divided into north and south commons.
The north commons, composed of about 154,000 square feet, will contain primarily assembly spaces, while the south commons, consisting of about 112,000 square feet, will include mainly classroom and faculty office spaces.
The West Haven High School Building Committee comprises Chairman William Sapienza, Vice Chairman Richard Shea, Secretary and West Haven High Principal Pamela B. Gardner, Finance Subcommittee Chairman Steven R. Mullins, Michael Betz, Assistant Building Official Richard Boyne, Peter Cordone, Fire Marshal Keith T. Flood of the West Haven Fire Department, Anthony Giordano, James Greenberg, Board of Education member Mark P. Palmieri, Emergency Management Director Robert S. Schwartz, Daria Weible, Steven Wydra and Ian Ackbarali.
— MICHAEL P. WALSH, Public Relations Information Coordinator