By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
City and state leaders signed a white-painted I-beam last Friday, signifying a major milestone in the rebuild of West Haven High School. Before it was erected the beam was marked and put into place in what is called a “topping off,” or completion, of the steel framework for the addition of the $130 million reconstruction of the school
City officials, including Board of Education Vice-Chairman Robert J. Guthrie; City Council members Peter V. Massaro (D-6), and Majority Leader Robbin Watt Hamilton (D-5), West Haven High School Building Committee Clerk Dwight Knowles; Councilman Mitchell L. Gallignano (D-4) Mayor Nancy R. Rossi; committee Chairman Kenneth Carney; mayoral Executive Assistant Lou Esposito, State Rep. Dorinda Borer (D-115), City Clerk Deborah Collins; school board member Patrick R. Leigh; and Superintendent of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro were on hand. Others attending the morning ceremony included state Rep. Charles J. Ferraro (R-117), council members Aaron Charney (D-3), and Tracy A. Morrissey (D-8), and school board members Chairman Rosemary Russo, Secretary-Treasurer Susan Walker, Patricia B. Libero, James W. Morrissey, Karen B. Pacelli and Rosa Richardson.
The symbolic signing of the steel beam was preceded by a signing by most of the senior class’s 364 students.
The signed beam was then rigged by ironworkers from Proiron LLC of Callegari Drive, hoisted by a large crane, and set by two workers atop the school’s future media center.
Designed by Antinozzi Associates of Bridgeport to accommodate 1,598 students, plans for the reconstructed high school include building the addition and renovating the existing building. 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. The fully air-conditioned building will have lower maintenance and operating costs while also offering enhanced access and security.
Officials said the project’s construction phase, also known as Phase III, is composed 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.
Officials said the construction phase, which began in April, is expected to 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, they said.
Officials confirmed the project is on schedule and on budget.
The project’s first sub-phase 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.
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.
In addition to Carney and Knowles, the West Haven High Building Committee includes Vice -Chairman Jerry Calabritto, Principal Pamela B. Gardner, Gary Perdo, Kenneth DiStasio, Dan Haslegrave, former Board of Education member Mark P. Palmieri and Assistant Principal Dana Paredes.