With hard-fought easement issues finally resolved, Carroll school officials again are moving forward with plans for an $18.2 million modernization of North Carroll Middle School.
Work on pipelines connecting the school with the public sewer system are to be put out to bid in two weeks. Contractors will be invited to bid on the school renovation package less than two months later. And school officials expect crews to begin tearing apart school hallways and classrooms in January.
"Of '04, that's January '04," construction Supervisor Al Eilbacher hastily added.
Such a clarification is necessary, he said, with the project - a behemoth of a renovation, on the books for years and in the budget since May - that was knocked a year behind schedule as easement negotiations between the county and several landowners stalled.
Those obstacles were cleared this month when the owners of Oakmont Green Golf Club and a nearby red-brick ranch house agreed to allow sewer lines to be laid across their properties so the 47-year-old school, whose septic system has failed, can be hooked to the public sewer system.
Leland Snyder, co-owner and general manager of Oakmont Green, said he had been awaiting assurances from the county that he could connect to the sewer line at his expense if his septic system fails. He also wanted a guarantee that during the busiest golfing season, all work will be done at night on the 20-foot-wide strip of fairway on the third and fourth holes that will be disturbed while crews install the sewer pipeline to the school.
Representing Oakmont Green and homeowner Joyce V. Lowe, attorney Charles D. Hollman also won permission for Charles J. Miller Inc., a 44-year-old Hampstead construction company, to connect to the sewer system at their expense if they experience a certified septic failure.
In return, Snyder and Lowe dropped their request that owners of a 23-acre parcel across the street from the school also be granted a sewer connection.
Douglas E. Myers, the county's public works director, said he expects the county to put the pipeline work out to bid Oct. 14. He said he anticipates crews beginning the work in December.
The renovation for the school - where the roof leaks, the heating system is unpredictable and sewage must be trucked from the school's failed septic system - will go out to bid Dec. 4 with work expected to begin the next month, Eilbacher said.
Demolition and construction crews are expected to tackle the school one wing at a time as North Carroll's 690 pupils rotate in and out of a cluster of portable classrooms set aside to make up for the closed wing under construction.
That likely will begin next month or in December, when the first group of teachers moves into the trailers in front of the school.
Eilbacher said he is hopeful that the budget developed in spring last year will hold up despite the delays.
"We are proceeding with the understanding that those numbers are still valid but we are somewhat holding our breath," he said. "Obviously, the bid opening itself will determine the actual cost."
Asked when the renovation would be finished, Eilbacher laughed. "Barring any unforeseen circumstances," he said, "we're still focused on completing it by November of 2005, which basically reflects a year behind the original schedule."
Carmela Guthart, president of North Carroll Middle's PTO and leader of the charge for the modernization project, said she is eager for work to begin.
"It wasn't two days after everyone signed the easements that there were surveyors out there and that was very gratifying to see," she said. "But when they block off one of those corridors and I can't get to it from inside the building, I'll breathe a sigh of relief. Until then, it's guarded excitement."