By Douglas Moser
---- — METHUEN — The high school renovation project passed a milestone Friday, as school and city officials celebrated the laying of the last beam on the building’s new wing. Officials said the $100 million project, which had a major hiccup last winter when the first construction company was fired, is on budget and on schedule to be completed in time for the 2014-15 school year.
“It’s a milestone that’s vitally important to the city, the residents, and most importantly, our students,” Mayor Stephen Zanni said Friday to a crowd of several high school students, a couple dozen construction workers and school and city officials. A white steel beam was displayed next to the new wing for students and officials to sign. After a few words from Zanni, Superintendent Judith Scannell and Jack McCarthy, director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, workers used a crane to lift the beam and attach it to the east end of the wing.
“It’s really great when we can keep existing buildings alive,” McCarthy said in a statement. “Addition projects, like the one at Methuen High, are among the most cost-effective ways to create a 21st century learning environment for Massachusetts students.”
Work began in earnest this year, after a months-long stoppage in work after the city fired Dimeo Construction as costs began to escalate. Another bidder, Consigli Construction, was hired by May and immediately began gutting and renovating the southern portion of the existing building and constructing a new wing.
That portion is scheduled to be done in time to move 10th to 12th graders, who are currently in the northern portion of the building, into the new section so renovation can continue in the remaining part.
Ninth graders have been housed at the former Central Elementary School since last year. Three programs, the JROTC, the band and the Rangerland preschool lab, were moved to Timony Grammar School for this school year.
The entire project is planned to wrap up by the summer of 2014.
“The youth of Methuen will be the ultimate beneficiaries for many years to come,” Scannell said.
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