Photo: A third of the piles have been installed in phase one of the Belmont Middle and High School project.
It was a long Wednesday, Sept. 4 for Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.
After a busy Tuesday welcoming teachers and staff back to the district after the summer recess, Phelan’s Wednesday began bright and early at Belmont High School where he joined staff and Belmont Police in a new role, as traffic monitors to assist students and parents with the first new parking and drop off scheme since the school opened 49 years ago in 1970.
With the access road which once allowed parents to drop off students at the high school’s main entrance before exiting onto Concord Avenue now a fading memory, cars, SUVs and minivans clogged Underwood Street before doubling back onto Hittinger Street and out through the Trowbridge neighborhood due to the large scale construction of the new middle and high school at the west end of the project.
But with so much that could go so wrong, opening day of the 2019-2020 school year went “very, very well,” said Phelan during the meeting of the Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee on Wednesday.
“The wait … was not too long into the [high] school” due in large part to the team of officers from the Belmont Police along with signs produced by the Department of Public Works and balloons used to identify where vehicles could come and go.
“It was good to see the kids back at school,” said Phelan, who when not running a school system of 4,200 students was also tasked with supplying the Building Committee with pizzas and drinks.
“All in a day’s work,” he said pushing a chart into the Homer Building.
While the work of bringing a new class of 9th – 12th graders, the largest and largest construction task to date is moving along quickly as 133 concrete piles have been driven into the ground to anchor the high school wing of the building. Just on Wednesday, 27 “corner” piles were secured, marking out the rough outline of the high school section, according to Mike Morrison, project manager for Skanska, the general contractor.
“We are one-third of the way in Phase 1 of the building,” said Morrison, noting that debris and soil is being removed from the site as construction beginning in and around the site of the school’s pool.
“All is going well,” said Morrison.