KODIAK — Ground was broken Thursday on $80 million in renovations at Kodiak High School.
Architect Tony Yorba, borough Assemblywoman Chris Lynch, school board member Norm Wooten and Superintendent Steward McDonald all turned the dirt in a ceremony for what is called the most expensive construction project ever in the history of the Kodiak Island Borough.
“So here we are at the groundbreaking of a project that has been in the works for many decades,” McDonald said before taking shovel in hand, according to the Kodiak Daily Mirror. “I want to thank everyone involved.”
State Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, said he was pleased to see the project start after so many years of planning and preparation.
“We realize that what’s most important . is to make sure our children are educated,” he said.
The project will take about three years to complete. It will add new classrooms, hallways, kitchens and four-story tower.
The groundbreaking ceremony came after some doubt the project would even go forward.
The renovation plan was originally much more expensive, at $115 million. Borough voters vetoed that plan in 2008, sending district officials back to the drawing board.
The plan was downscaled, and voters approved the $80.4 million plan a year later.
Yorba was chosen as the architect, and the design phase began in 2010.
That process lasted two years, and resulted in plans and drawings that measured more than a foot thick.
Watterson Construction of Anchorage won the construction bid earlier this year.
Even though the “groundbreaking” was held Thursday, there’s been activity at the site for about two weeks. Workers have been preparing utilities in the basement for the start of excavation.
Digging will start later next month, and the first steel is expected to be erected next summer.