Chestnut Grove renovations to greet students
July 25 – Decatur City Schools officials say renovations to Chestnut Grove Elementary will be nearing completion when students return to the school on August 5.
A new ventilation system, LED lighting and ceiling sprinklers will be installed in the K-2 section when students and staff return to the school along Cedarhurst Drive Southwest. Also, the activity buildings at Chestnut Grove, Julian Harris and Austinville Elementary Schools are expected to be completed within a month of school commencement. The 5,000-square-foot buildings will provide an indoor option for exercise and other activities.
Last summer, the office area of Chestnut Grove was renovated. The Groups 3-5 section will be renovated next summer and the fine arts section will be upgraded in the summer of 2023, Chief Inspector Michael Douglas said.
Douglas said the original plan was to replace Chestnut Grove’s HVAC system, but the timeline expanded when DCS decided to add sprinklers for fire protection.
“We wanted sprinklers in the building,” Douglas said. “We want what’s safest for our students.”
DCS project manager Lee Edminson said when Chestnut Grove was built in 1992, it met existing building codes, but those safety regulations have changed.
“They built firewalls instead of sprinkling the building,” he said.
After removing the ceilings this summer, “we installed new HVAC, new sprinkler lines, new fire protection system, new LED lighting and new ceiling grilles,” he said. “Above the ceiling inspections passed (Tuesday). That was a huge milestone for us.”
He said replacing the HVAC system is too late.
“The maintenance department has done a fantastic job keeping that school’s system up and running. It’s been there since 1993. That’s a long time for any HVAC system,” Edminson said.
He said students will also notice flat panel LED lighting in classrooms, the library, hallways and common areas.
“It’s all new and clean in that area. We pride ourselves on being on budget, on time and with the quality of the work,” said Edminson. “Next summer, the other classrooms will get new HVAC, new ceilings, just the same.”
He said supply chain problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed the construction of activity buildings at the three schools.
“Our goal is to have everything ready before school starts in August, but it will probably take two to four weeks after school starts for the activity building to be completely ready for use,” Edminson said. “It took us 12 and 16 weeks to get metal buildings for two of the schools.”
He said Chestnut Grove’s activity building will have two basketball goals, restrooms, and an office. He said the gym floor and the landscaping outside remain unfinished.
“We haven’t been able to get sod for the exterior and the floor is soft and spongy. It takes about two weeks after the building is ready to build up those layers and get the thickness and softness for the floor and still keep it where it is.” you can bounce a ball on it,” said Edminson. “As a primary school, we like to throw in some color. The floor looks nice, but is very durable.”
He said the softer floor can help prevent injuries during falls.
Douglas said the price tag for work this summer on the 60,000-square-foot Chestnut Grove building is about $1.7 million.
The entire school renovation project will be approximately $4 million.
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