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Another delay for New London-Spicer schools' theater

Carolyn Lange / Tribune Originally scheduled to be done this fall, the New London-Spicer School performing arts theater is now scheduled for completion by Feb. 28. 1 / 3
Carolyn Lange / Tribune Originally scheduled to be done this fall, the New London-Spicer School performing arts theater is now scheduled for completion by Feb. 28. 2 / 3
Carolyn Lange / Tribune Originally scheduled to be done this fall, the New London-Spicer School performing arts theater is now scheduled for completion by Feb. 28. 3 / 3

NEW LONDON — The completion date for the New London-Spicer Schools performing arts auditorium has been delayed again.

After ground was broken in August of 2016, the 650-seat theater was scheduled to be done by November — in time for the fall music concerts and high school play.

But then the deadline was pushed back to December.

And then it was pushed back to mid-January.

The completion date has now been set for Feb. 28 — but that's only if the roof is in place by Dec. 11.

If the roof isn't done by then, "We'll have to look at a different deadline," said Superintendent Paul Carlson.

Inclement weather, unforeseen utility issues, permit delays and a mistake by a masonry contractor all contributed to the delay, according to Kevin Currie, construction manager with Winkelman Building Corporation.

He said the next 45 to 60 days will be crucial in terms of meeting a major milestone to get the structure enclosed. Once that happens the project will "turn a big corner" and work won't depend on the weather.

Currie said there are no weather delays built into the schedule.

When asked by the board if additional crews can be put on the job or asked to work longer days during good weather, Currie said contractors have assured him the right number of people are on site.

"They're motivated to get it done," Currie said. "Nobody's working on this job that isn't motivated to get it done as soon as possible."

While disappointed that holiday band and choir concerts will not be held in the theater — and the high school fall play that opened Thursday could not be performed there — Carlson said it's important the project is done right.

When it's done, the theater will be "state-of-the-art and just beautiful," Carlson said.

Currie said he's confident the theater will be done in time for the band and choir concerts in March.

Carlson said the original completion date of the theater was unrealistic, especially given the complexity of the theater design and other parts of the $20.6 million district-wide project that included a new gym at the high school, new entrance at the middle school and new cafeteria and classrooms at the elementary school.

Work at the elementary school was finished just in the nick of time before school started. The gym is now done and is currently being used while final punch-list items are gone through, Currie said.

Currie told the school board last week that a "lot of progress" was made during a two-week span of good weather in October and that the new middle school lobby will be ready for use after the Thanksgiving break.

Sending students through that entrance will mean a change in where students board school buses and a change in the route buses take through the campus.

Carlson said the project is on budget and he does not expect there to be cost overruns.

"You have to focus on the positive," he said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750
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