East Rock School Opening Delayed

Melissa Bailey PhotoMarc Gonzalez won’t be able to walk across the street to his new school as planned in January.

Marc (pictured), who’s 11, lives on Nash Street right across from the East Rock Community School. For the past two years, he has hopped on a bus to study in a Hamden swing space while the city demolished, then began to rebuild, his school.

He’ll have to keep catching the bus for another five months—and possibly until next fall—as construction crews finish the work he’s been watching for his window.

The school was originally set to open in September of 2012. Then it was delayed until January 2013 due in part to environmental remediation.

Now the $49 million school won’t be ready in time for January 2013, according to Bob Lynn, the director of New Haven school construction for the Gilbane Building Company. Construction is set to be completed in March, Lynn said at last week’s meeting of the Citywide School Building Committee. He said the city is looking to open the school during spring break, which is set for April 13 to 20.

However, given that New Haven Public Schools already missed three days for Superstorm Sandy, there’s a chance that that break may dwindle due to snow days, Lynn said. If that happens, the school could move during summer break in July.

Lynn said the delay came to due a combination of factors, including a late delivery of glass from Washington State.

Parents eager to move their kids into their new school found out about the delay last month, according to PTO president Daisy Gonzalez, Marc’s mom. The magnet school serves about 420 kids in grades K to 8.

“I was really upset” to find out about the delay, Gonzalez said. However, she found a bright side in the news: She’s planning a grand opening for the school. “This will give us more time to plan.”

Marc, who’s in the 6th grade, attended the school across the street from his house until 4th grade, when he began commuting to the Hamden swing space. Instead of a 30-second walk, he takes a 30-minute bus ride to school. He said he was looking forward to ending his bus ride, because it’s cold and not that fun.

“I was looking forward to going to the school in January,” he said.

Marc has watched with interest ever since crews began to dismantle the 1970s concrete bunker across the street from his house. The old school looked a “giant concrete block” plopped into a residential area, Marc recalled. The school looked like “a big jail” facing rows of houses for prison guards.

Marc said new school fits in much better in the neighborhood. “Now it just looks like one big happy community with a happy school.”

The new school, designed by Newman Architects, has a smaller footprint and more light. The K to 8 school plans to add a pre-K in the fall.

Gonzalez said likes the way it fits with the former Marlin Firearms factory across the street on Willow.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “This is going to be really, really nice.”


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posted by: anonymous on November 14, 2012  3:17pm

Will the street be safe to cross?  It shows an astonishing level of myopia that we can spend tens of millions on our new school buildings, but can’t spare pennies to make it possible to walk (or take a wheelchair) to them without being killed. Hopefully this school will be different from the last 40.

posted by: SaveOurCity on November 14, 2012  8:34pm

$49 million and 4 years and the school is going to be somewhere between 9 and 12 months late?  I wonder how many extra $$ are involved and how many of those $$ will end up in the 2013 DeStefano campaign coffers…

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on November 15, 2012  9:55am

“The new school, designed by Newman Architects, has a smaller footprint and more light.”

Heh, that wouldn’t take much, given that the previous school had NO WINDOWS AT ALL in any of the rooms that faced the street, and the windows that faced the ugly inner courtyard were made of some kind of unbreakable plastic that got discolored and scratched and smeared over the years.  What a travesty that was.  Brutalist architecture was almost as guilty as the whole “Model City” disaster in wrecking this town between 1955 and 1980.

Now do something about the Police headquarters on Union Avenue, please, and then the firehouse on Olive and Grant, and we’ll finally begin to put this idiocy to rest.