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Merrimack Valley

October 14, 2013

New high school auditorium delayed

METHUEN — Opening the new high school performing arts center will be pushed back until early next year, nearly four months after the newly renovated and expanded south wing opened for students.

A delay in delivery of rigging materials and catwalks, among other things, prompted the change, officials said. The delay will keep the high school band and choral programs located next door at Timony Grammar School, and means any high school performances will have to find another venue. Otherwise, disruption would be minimal, said Mayor Stephen Zanni.

“Delivery for the high school auditorium is mid-January because of material delivery concerns,” Superintendent Judith Scannell said in an email. “Through discussions with the team, we all agreed it is best to have a fully completed facility to open up.”

Work on the 750-seat auditorium and performance space, which is surrounded by music and choral rooms in a new fine arts wing at the high school, was slowed earlier this year to prioritize completion of classroom space, a project official said. Opening the auditorium was pushed to October or November.

“In order to deliver on time, something had to give,” said Gino Baroni, owner of Trident, the project management company overseeing the construction project for the city. “We talked about it and the educational programs are more important, and we delayed (the auditorium) until October, November, December.”

Then just before Labor Day, a pipe fitting burst in a hallway, scrambling plans for finishing the new section in time for the start of school on Sept. 4. Construction crews and school custodial employees worked over the weekend, on Labor Day and on Sept. 3 to clean up the mess, repair and repaint the walls and replace ceiling tiles damaged to keep the opening on schedule.

“We pulled a lot of resources and that affected us a bit,” Baroni said.

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