Despite a few hiccups, including a ten-day workers strike and the discovery of some unexpected asbestos, the repairs on Garfield High School’s roof is continuing on schedule. Mark Emelko, Project Manager for Schools, said that the capital project was scheduled to wrap by Aug. 18, 2017.
The $1.03 million roof repair is funded by tax dollars through the $475.3 million “Buildings: Technology and Academics Capital Levy IV” that was approved by voters in February of 2016 and allocated $17.2 million particularly to roof replacements and seismic diaphragm upgrades. While the project at GHS was originally bid at $962,000, Emelko said that a five to ten percent over-under cost variance is to be expected with any project of this size and that he was confident in the efficiency of Western Ventures Construction Inc., the company contracted for the job.
This renovation comes due to what Emelko described as a “substantial existing need because there were some leakage and moisture penetration issues.” This is the first major renovation to the school since Garfield was massively renovated in 2002, and the work underway now is on the part of the building that was not reconstructed in 2002. Emelko says that the Seattle Public Schools received the information that they used to make the decision to renovate the high school primarily from maintenance staff.
Other schools getting upgrades under this section of the levy include Dearborn Park, Ballard, Ingraham, Lincoln, and West Seattle high schools. If the upgrades on Garfield are finished on schedule then there will be no effect on students during the school year. Construction on the project started on June 28, one day after students left for the summer.
Emelko said that if projects like these are not taken as preventative action then a situation can arise like the one at West Seattle High School this winter, when work crews had to do emergency repairs in what was one of Seattle’s wettest and darkest winters in history.
As far as the problem of asbestos, work had to be briefly halted so that a material testing engineer could examine the area intended for repair. When the material was confirmed as asbestos it became paramount that the dangerous substance be undisturbed and covered. Emelko stated that asbestos becomes a problem when it starts getting into the air. “If you leave it alone and cover it, it’s ok.” Emelko said.