Nearly 40 people turned out Tuesday night to hear the latest update on the plan to rebuild Condit Elementary in Bellaire under the Houston Independent School District’s 2012 bond program.
The community meeting was designed to introduce the contractor who could be starting some site work in July, should the project get final approval by the City of Bellaire. HISD has pledged to keep neighborhoods informed as construction begins on all of the schools in the first phase of the bond program by the end of the year.
“We’re going to do everything we can to mitigate dust, trash and construction debris,” said Wade Hanegan of Jamail & Smith Construction, which will be handling the initial work at Condit, located at 7000 South Third.
Plans call for a new two-story school for 750 students. The school will feature a centralized learning commons – a modern version of a library – surrounded by a two-story cluster or “ribbon” of classrooms grouped by grade level. The upper floors will contain higher grade levels and the lower floors with the younger students. The learning commons in the middle of the school will be an open, naturally lighted area with flexible seating and bookshelves used to define quiet spaces.
Condit students will remain in the current facility while the new school is being built. To facilitate that work, Jamail & Smith Construction plans to relocate some of the temporary buildings on the site this summer. That move will require the demolition of an existing blacktop canopy. In addition, the contractor will take advantage of the summer months to do some street utility work. The goal is to minimize the impact on traffic.
Hanegan emphasized that his firm wants to be a good neighbor and will try to mitigate any inconveniences for nearby neighbors, including making sure they are notified about the impending work and have the names of people to call, should there be concerns.
“Our goal is to fly beneath the radar,” he said.
Once the new school is built, 60,000 square feet of green space will be recaptured on the existing building space along Jessamine, South Rice and South Third. A double drop-off area will be retained on South Third and South Rice, and parking areas will be located on both sides.
Historical elements of the current school, including the arched entryway, cornerstones and wood flooring, will be preserved in the new building, according to Todd Lien, principal with VLK Architects.
One focus of Tuesday’s meeting was safety. Hanegan said his firm requires all of its workers to pass background checks, including drug screening. Those same workers have the appropriate safety certifications before stepping onto any job site.
“We are a very safety-oriented company,” he said. “We value safety.”
Condit parent Shreyas Bhavsar said he was pleased with what he heard at the event, especially the plans to minimize any disruptions to the school’s academic program.
“It’s very well-thought out,” he said.