Drive down Nob Hill Boulevard, Tieton Drive or U.S. Highway 97 and the work is visible. Not road repairs, although there’s that, too. These are major school construction projects worth millions of dollars.
Some projects are racing against the clock to be completed before the new school year; others are multi-year efforts.
Here’s an update on major projects:
The Yakima School District’s ambitious reinvention of its two high schools continues for at least another year. The phased renovation of Davis High School continues this summer with the expected completion of the C building, which will house the library, school administration and classrooms.
Superintendent Elaine Beraza said furniture will be moved in next month. Previously completed facilities include the commons and a classroom building on the campus’ west side. The full project, to cost an estimated $97 million, will be completed next summer.
While the new Eisenhower High School opened to students and staff last August, the $108 million campus remains a work in progress. Basic repairs to Zaepfel Stadium have begun with new turf, track and lights expected to be ready in the fall. New athletic fields south of the building are also under construction.
Both projects and construction of a new Stanton Academy, already complete, received $104 million in state matching money.
But it’s not just the school district reshaping the Yakima landscape. Yakima Valley Community College is working on a new building scheduled to be finished next spring. The nearly 44,000-square-foot Palmer Martin Hall will house the art, modern language, speech and communication and education departments. Ongoing work is visible from Nob Hill Boulevard and 16th Avenue as the exterior brick walls take shape. The total cost of Palmer Martin Hall is just over $19 million.
Central Washington University is in the midst of adding a $68.2 million science building on the west side of campus. Spokeswoman Linda Schactler said exterior walls will go up soon.
When completed, the facility will include a lecture hall and planetarium, an observatory tower and various laboratories. Physics and geology departments and CWU’s Center of Excellence in Science and Math Education will also be housed in the yet-to-be named building. It will be substantially completed in winter 2016 and ready for students and staff in the fall of the same year.
Additions to the high school have been completed. A new auxiliary gymnasium and six classrooms were showcased to the public a few weeks ago. The gym will seat 540; two of the six classrooms will be science labs.
A much larger endeavor of the school district is the construction of a new middle school and the consolidation of Selah schools from five to four. Assistant Superintendent Chris Scacco said the middle school is on time, on budget and will be completed in December.
The 115,000-square-foot building will cost $37.3 million, of which $18 million was from the state. The school will house sixth through eighth grade starting in the 2015-16 school year. Eighth-graders, though, will have the school to themselves in the second half of the upcoming school year as the grade level moves in after the holiday break.
It has been a long time coming, but the high school is nearly finished after voters approved a $20 million bond three years ago. Workers are finishing up an art room and the career and technical education classrooms. The last pieces of the former building were torn down recently.
“Who knows what could happen in the next month, but we are scheduled for Sept. 2 (the first day of classes),” said district spokesman Mike Balmelli.
Sixty-seven percent of Wapato voters approved the bond after previous attempts failed. The district received $23 million in state matching funds for the project, putting the grand total of the 177,000-square-foot building at $43 million.
To say Heritage University has picked up the pieces barely two years after a devastating fire destroyed its oldest building is an understatement. The private university is finishing up three new buildings scheduled to open next month.
“The campus just takes on an entirely new presence with these three new buildings,” said David Wise, the university’s vice president of marketing and communications.
A dining hall/bookstore, IT facility and classroom building will be formally dedicated Aug. 22. The $12 million project is expected to be the beginning of a grander plan of expanding the rural campus.
“They’re so encouraged by the growth that’s taking place, plans for an expedited address of the master plan is underway,” Wise said about Heritage officials. “We’re just deciding what next phase of the master plan we will be doing next.”
Sunnyside and Naches
Voters from the two communities approved multimillion-dollar bonds in February to construct new elementary schools. As of this summer, no construction has begun on either proposed school. Sunnyside executive services director Curtis Campbell said the district is currently accepting bids for the design of the new Washington Elementary School. Naches Valley Superintendent Duane Lyons, meanwhile, said there will be 3-D renderings of the proposed project available within the next month. His hope is to award the contract in January to commence principal construction next summer.