The Spinal Column

Walled Lake Schools’ Building, Infrastructure and Equity Bond work progressing




Walled Lake Schools broke ground on their new Early Childhood Center (ECC) last November. Funding for the state-of-the-art facility, which will be located at 13 Mile Road near M-5 in Novi, is a result of the Buildings, Infrastructure and Equity Bond that the community approved in May of 2019. (File photo/CHRIS WALL.)

Walled Lake Schools broke ground on their new Early Childhood Center (ECC) last November. Funding for the state-of-the-art facility, which will be located at 13 Mile Road near M-5 in Novi, is a result of the Buildings, Infrastructure and Equity Bond that the community approved in May of 2019. (File photo/CHRIS WALL.)

Real progress is being made on the record-setting, $316 million Walled Lake Consolidated School District’s 2019 Building, Infrastructure and Equity Bond, which, when completed, will include work in every building the district owns.

That is 100 percent owed to the support the district gets from the community, said Judy Evola, director of communications and marketing.

“We have a very supportive community and we’re very fortunate our community supports our schools and our children, so we can complete these bond projects that support learning for our children,” Evola stated.

The work is made easier by the long-standing relationship between Bill Chatfield, WLCSD’s director of operations, TMP Architects, project architects, and Auch Construction, construction manager for the bond project, she added.

“Bill has been with the district 20 years and has worked with four significant bonds with Walled Lake Schools,” each of which involved him working with TMP Architects and Auch Construction in the same roles.

Dublin Elementary progress

Work on Dublin Elementary is progressing well and is “on schedule,” reported Chatfield. “Bids were approved at the board of education’s February meeting, contractors are poised for a ground breaking in April and we will be full speed ahead for an opening in the 2023- 24 school year. By the end of this school year, we will see site balancing taking place and the beginning of foundation placement and installation. We believe this school will be a state-of-the-art, innovative, creative, flexible facility that welcomes our early learners, staff and community for decades to come.”

He added, “The challenge is to build a new school on an existing site and keep the existing school operational in the existing school while construction is completed. We are fortunate the site will accommodate this, however, there will be some limitations for parking and playground as we proceed with the project.”

The brand-new building will be constructed on the “flat, empty part of the site, closer to Union Lake Road,” Chatfield added. The new school will be constructed as students continue to go to the current Dublin. He anticipates an April ground breaking, with the completed school being ready in time to be occupied by the start of the 2023-24 school year; the work will then move on to the demolition of the old building.

Chatfield noted that the hardest part of a project this size is “just a lot of coordination and communication and scheduling.”

While much of the work is planned to be accomplished during each summer break, he explained, other work will start before school gets out or be completed after school starts in the fall. In its previous bond work, the district has been successful completing renovations throughout the school year.

Phase I is complete

Some bond work has already been completed. Chatfield said, “The four buildings that received bond Phase I remodeling in the summer of 2020, Commerce, Glengary, Walled Lake and Wixom elementary schools, were, for the most part, prepared and ready for students this fall. In general, some work was completed during the fall to finish punch list items, technology installations and furniture setups.”

Current and future work

Phase II bond schools will include Mary Helen Guest Elementary, as well as three middle schools – Clifford H. Smart, Sarah A. Banks and Walnut Creek. The bids for these schools were approved at the December board of education meeting; 40 Dublin Elementary construction bids were approved at the February board meeting. The contracts are signed, and, Chatfield explained, “Low impact wiring and electrical work will begin soon and renovations to media centers will begin this spring.”

All this work has to be balanced with other projects, he added. “Since the start of the school year, the Phase I buildings have been completed, bids were completed on the Early Childhood Center, the ECC is well under construction and is on schedule, design for Western is moving along. Phase II preparations are underway so construction can be done this summer. As you can see, we are working on several projects simultaneously and we are very pleased with the progress on each of the projects.”

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