Cash pushes school remodel ahead

City plans Floyd Dryden renovation while state upgrades nearby bike path, intersection

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2003

An upgrade to 30-year-old Floyd Dryden Middle School is slated to begin this summer after an injection of cash from the Juneau Assembly.

Assembly members unanimously agreed Monday to add $200,000 to the project, transferring the money from an undesignated school-construction fund. The decision keeps the project on track after a December estimate showed costs would be higher than expected, City Architect Catherine Fritz said.

The project - now budgeted at $5.5 million - will improve the school's gymnasium with new lighting and paint. It also will add a new roof, replace the ceiling throughout the school, add new paint and carpet in most of the building, and replace most lockers. Lighting, plumbing and ventilation improvements also are planned.

The project should go out to bid in February with work starting June 9, Fritz said. About 650 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders attend Floyd Dryden, according to the school.

"The project will proceed over a 16-month period," Fritz said. "With construction during two summers, the impact to kids and school operations will be minimized."

Some work is scheduled for next school year, but it shouldn't be very disruptive, she said. The gym likely will be closed to the public in the summer of 2004. Ceilings may be torn open and concrete floor surfaces exposed in the building, she said.

"It will be fully functional," she said of the school during the renovations. "It won't be noisy and distractive like (the) Juneau-Douglas High School (renovation) has been."

The project won't cover every need at the school, however. Juneau School District and city officials pared back the project last fall to meet budget constraints, splitting the work into two phases. Items moved to the second phase - such as renovating the locker rooms and changes to the administration area to address security concerns - will have to wait for funding, Fritz said.

The price of the second phase stands at $6 million-plus. The city and school district are looking for funding, Fritz said.

"A commitment has been made to a two-phase project," she said. "The community needs to be aware that there needs to be a funding request for the second phase at some point."

Juneau Assembly member Stan Ridgeway, a former Juneau School Board member, said the project will help address inequities between the newer Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, built in the mid-1990s, and Floyd Dryden.

"Unfortunately, Juneau is trying to maintain itself as a capital city, and we have so many things we have to do. That's why there are so many people pushing to do the (new) high school at the higher amount," he said. "It's the same thing with Floyd Dryden. We're going to do a great 'reno' that's needed, but knowing we have to do more."

Floyd Dryden parents sent the Assembly a flurry of e-mails in late November asking the city to widen the roadway leading to the school and improve its lighting and sidewalks.

Fritz said the city is working with the state Department of Transportation to include the work with planned bike path and intersection improvements on Mendenhall Loop Road, she said. The city and the state are working on the cost and design, she said.

Soc Kreuzenstein, Southeast construction manager with the DOT, said the state is planning to reconfigure both sides of the bike path along Mendenhall Loop Road from Atlin Drive to the national forest boundary near the Mendenhall Glacier. Southeast Earth Movers of Sitka is the contractor for the $941,000 project, he said.

The project will move the bike path so it crosses the roadway closer to Loop Road intersections, instead of 20 to 30 feet away, Kreuzenstein said.

"People using the pathway now either stop at every side street or go sailing through the approach street," he said.

The state also plans to widen the bike path from 8 feet to 10 feet. As part of the existing project, yellow flashing signs and a bright green overhead lighted crosswalk sign will be added to the Floyd Dryden intersection, he said.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.



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