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Firestone/Litchfield CLC progressing

12/12/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

Construction is progressing on the planned Firestone-Litchfield Community Learning Center (CLC), with most of the work now underground. Firestone High School is shown in the background, as the former Litchfield building has been demolished.
Photo: Becky Tompkins
WEST AKRON — The construction process on the planned Firestone-Litchfield Community Learning Center (CLC) in the Akron Public School (APS) District is moving along, with most of the work now underground.

John Peterson, architect with GDP Group and project manager, updated community members on the building’s progress Dec. 5.

The project is in Phase 3 now, he said. Phase 1 was the asbestos abatement and demolition of Litchfield Middle School. The Litchfield students are currently attending school at the former Perkins Middle School building.

Phase 2 is almost finished, Peterson said, which includes site preparation and installation of the geothermal field underground on the former Litchfield and track site. Workers have drilled 220 wells 550 feet deep in the ground, he said, under what will be the parking lot on the Firestone side of the new building. The building will be heated and cooled by geothermal energy.

Phase 3 is the foundation work, the deep underground utilities construction. That work will go through next April, Peterson said.

The construction documents are complete, he said, and are out for bidding.

“We will begin to take bids in a couple of weeks,” he said.

The plans and building renderings have been approved by the Joint Board of Review, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, the Akron Planning Commission, Akron City Council and the Summit County Building Department, Peterson said.

The 381,000-square-foot building is planned to accommodate 640 students in sixth through eighth grades and 1,400, including career tech students, in ninth through 12 grades.

Peterson showed virtual tours of entering the Firestone front door, which will face Castle Boulevard, and of driving up to both entrances of the building, where parents will be able to drop off students.

The driveway into the Firestone side will enter at the fork of Castle Boulevard and Fairfax Road and exit onto Castle across from Winhurst Drive, where there will be a four-way stop, Peterson said. There also will be a bus drop-off area along Castle.

Several people expressed concern about traffic problems and suggested a traffic light instead of a four-way stop at Winhurst.

APS Director of Facility Planning Paul Flesher said city of Akron planners were not in favor of installing a light but that “it’s an ongoing conversation.”

Akron City Councilwoman Marilyn Keith (D-Ward 8) was in attendance and said that she, too, was concerned about the potential congestion at Winhurst with “a four-way stop, the railroad tracks and new drivers.” She said the safety of children and other pedestrians was very important to both the city and APS planners.

She encouraged community members to contact her with their concerns.

“Your feedback is important to me,” she said.

There will be more total parking spaces around the new facility than are currently available, Peterson said, and a new lot for overflow parking will be built across Fairfax from the school, next to the baseball field.

There will be security at the two main entrances — the Firestone side on Castle and the Litchfield side on Rampart Avenue — Peterson said, with a security office inside each of the entrances.

Visitors will need to be buzzed in from the entrance vestibule, and other building doors will be locked during the school day, he said. There are no plans for metal detectors at the entrances, he added.

There will be security cameras in the building, Peterson said.

Flesher added there will be security officers in both the middle school and high school sides of the building.

Each side of the building, Litchfield and Firestone, will have its own music and art areas, science labs, gym and cafeteria, Peterson said. The building will be fully handicapped-accessible.

The next step is the bidding package, according to Peterson, with construction running from 2013 to 2016. The Firestone students and staff will be able to move into the new building in mid-2015. The existing natatorium and adjacent practice gym/activity center will not be torn down but will be renovated beginning in February 2015, he said.

Once the Firestone side is completed, construction will continue on the Litchfield side, with students able to move into it in fall 2016, according to Peterson. The current Firestone building is set for asbestos abatement and demolition in 2016, followed by site work there for future athletic fields from 2016 into spring 2017.

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