Oct. 13—WILLIMANTIC — After many years of planning, renovations to Windham High School are now underway.
Those involved with the project will celebrate the progress during a private groundbreaking event at the school Thursday morning.
" There are a lot of people that have worked on this project in the background for years and I know that they are very excited," Windham High School Renovate- as- New Building Committee Chairman Michael Callahan said.
He said there are always " naysayers," but his general impression is that community members are excited about the project.
The groundbreaking is only open to those who received an invitation.
Windham Superintendent of Schools Tracy Youngberg said due to construction, there isn't any access to many sections of the property and there is limited parking.
Construction began last month and is expected to take 39 months.
The project is designed to update an aging facility, which was built in 1970 and is approximately 222,000 square feet.
The budget for the project is $ 112.3 million and of that, the state is expected to reimburse 95 percent of eligible expenses.
In addition to renovations for the high
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school, the project involves work for the early childhood center and central office, which moved to the building several years ago.
Callahan said the project is on schedule and on budget.
He said now that bids are in, they are determining what expenses are eligible and which aren't. Downes Construction is the construction manager for the Windham High School project. Colliers International is the owner's project manager and Friar Architecture is the architect.
Callahan said the high school project is a sign of " significant change" for the community, also referring to the parking garage and senior/ community center projects.
A ribbon- cutting for the parking garage is scheduled for 10 a. m. Oct. 23 and the senior/ community center is nearing completion.
The high school building work is being phased in since students and staff remain in the building while construction is underway. " We only have the preliminary schedule for phase one and we're hoping in the next two or three weeks to have the overall schedule," Callahan said. " Now that they've gotten started, they'll have a good idea of what that's going to be."
He said all the preparatory work has been done and work has begun on a new access road in the back, as well as a new parking lot in the front.
Demolition for the first phase of the project began in the old pool area in the back.
According to the high school webpage, the next phase of asbestos abatement will begin Thursday.
Follow Michelle Warren on Twitter — @mwarrentc.