New Aberdeen High gym comes up short

Mistake puts ceiling 4 feet below standard

March 02, 2003|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

When the physical education teachers at Aberdeen High School got their first look inside the new gymnasium under construction, they felt a bit claustrophobic.

"They thought the ceiling looked low," Kathleen Sanner, supervisor of planning and construction for the Harford County Public Schools, told school board members at their meeting last week.

They were right. A mistake in the blueprints put the ceiling at 20 feet, instead of 24 feet, which is standard in high school gym construction.

Sanner said the mistake went unnoticed by the design teams, the inspectors and school officials until the roof was near completion.

The gym is part of a $40 million construction program to replace Aberdeen High School.

Sanner told board members that the architectural firm, Grimm & Parker Inc., of Calverton, has accepted responsibility for the error and is working with her office to correct the problem.

Sanner could not estimate how much it would cost to reconstruct the roof, but she told the board that she is confident the gym will be ready in time for the opening of the new school year in August.

"We accept responsibility and we are working on a resolution," said Stephen Parker, president of Grimm & Parker, the largest school architectural company in the state.

Parker said that someone with the company put the wrong dimension on the plans, a mistake that was not caught by other staff members.

He said the company has designed more than 100 school buildings.

Sanner said the lower ceiling could interfere with the playing of basketball and volleyball. She said all gymnasiums should be the same so that no team would have an advantage or disadvantage in playing scholastic sports.

School board member Robert B. Thomas Jr. of Joppatowne expressed concern over how the roof would be repaired. He wants an expert analysis to determine that the fix would be properly done and the roof could support a heavy snow.

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