SYRACUSE — It’s a typical behind the scenes infrastructure project most people won’t notice a difference even when completed. Nonetheless, it is of vital importance because equipment needs to be updated and will run more efficiently.
Several heating and air handlers are being replaced in Wawasee High School in a project which began Tuesday, Sept. 4. During the June school board meeting, a bid was awarded to Fort Wayne-based Project Design and Piping. With alternate bids the total cost came to $1,558,000. “It is a big undertaking,” said Don Ritter, facilities director for the Wawasee Community School Corporation.
Heating and air handlers are being replaced in the auditorium, stage, old cafeteria, TV studio area, pool, locker room, auxiliary gym, media center, brickyard, pool lobby and pool locker rooms. Also replaced will be the old above-ceiling duct work and the ceiling and lay-in ceiling lights within the pool area. And duct work is being replaced in the annex gym.
Updating this type of equipment and making it run more efficiently is usually not something as noticeable as, for example, a classroom renovation project but there will be a couple of exceptions. “In the annex gym there has never been air conditioning so that is huge,” Ritter said. Also visible will be the new ceiling in the pool area.
Some of the air handlers date to when the school was originally built more than 50 years ago. “Equipment just doesn’t last forever,” he said. “With boilers, chillers and this type of equipment the average life expectancy is usually 25 to 30 years.”
Old equipment must be disconnected, disassembled and removed from the building. It’s not as simple as taking a pile of old equipment out the front door. A skid system was built on the roof to remove some equipment from the building.
The project is being done in two phases and the target date to complete the first phase is Oct. 31. And the second phase will go through the end of the year.
Ritter noted choosing Sept. 4 as a start date was due to many contractors being busy during the summer months. A later start date would mean more bids and a better price.