Renovation lags at JDHS

Atrium and commons area won't be open until late spring

Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2003

Construction delays at Juneau-Douglas High School mean a new atrium and remodeled commons area won't be open until mid-April or May, city officials said Wednesday. The Gold Medal Basketball Tournament will take place as planned later this month.

Work on the $21 million JDHS renovation project started last summer and the first phase of the project was to have been finished by the end of February. The setback is caused by a number of problems, from late shipments of specialty items to a one-month bidding delay at the start of the project, city project architect Gary Gillette said Wednesday.

"The primary reason we can't turn it over is because there's still a lot of work to be done," he told Juneau Assembly members.

The contractor has timed noisy work around school hours to avoid disrupting classes, which has slowed down work, Gillette said. In addition, high winds prevented workers from installing large glass windows on the west side of the new atrium this week. The front doors to the building won't arrive until next month, he said.

"It's the nature of the game, especially in a renovation project," he said. "Things come up that slow you down."

The delay means a slight change of plans for the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, which runs March 23 to 29. Organizers are moving concession, craft and ticket sales from the commons to the high school's auxiliary gym.

"Everything that was done in the commons now will be done in the auxiliary gym," Gold Medal co-chairman Robin Lown said. "It's a little inconvenient, but we're making the best of it. I think it will come off smoothly."

Basketball games in the main gym won't be affected, and new rest rooms in the commons area should be ready for Gold Medal, Gillette said. The rest of the commons will be roped off, he said. Students will be on spring break at the time.

The construction work also has contributed to a new opening night for the high school's spring musical. "Damn Yankees" will open April 16 instead of April 4, school officials said earlier this week. Gillette said work inside the auditorium is virtually done.

The entire renovation is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year and the latest delays haven't increased project costs, Gillette said. Roofing work is ahead of schedule because workers were able to take advantage of good weather this winter, he said.

Mary Becker, chairwoman of the Juneau School Board's Facilities Committee, said the school had planned to move into newly renovated classrooms over spring break. Because of the delay, the district plans to postpone the move until after school lets out to avoid an upheaval when classes are underway, she said.

"I'm amazed with how it's shaping up. It will be lovely when it's done," she said. "I'm disappointed for the Gold Medal part. ... It was probably ambitious to have that done, but it certainly was a goal."

Construction areas have been off-limits to students, staff and the public this school year. Photos taken by Gillette on Tuesday show wood trim piled in the commons area and stacks of other material in the atrium. Workers are installing tile in the cafeteria, he said.

Deputy Mayor Ken Koelsch urged project managers to get the commons area open as soon as possible so this year's high school seniors can enjoy it.

"Lord help you if it's not done by graduation," he said.

Joanna Markell can be reached at

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