July 24, 2019

Belfast concerned with construction of middle school

BELFAST — The city wants to make sure that the $6.5 million middle school construction conforms to the building code.

The project was delayed for about a month, and the first pour of concrete footings did not start until late November, assistant to the superintendent, Paul Luttrell, said.

Luttrell stressed that pouring of concrete in cold temperatures was in the original plans for the building, and the specifications allowed for it.

“There’s a coldproof additive in the concrete — it’s part of doing construction in Maine,” he said.

What the city is concerned about is frost getting underneath the footings. Robert Temple, the city’s code enforcement officer, said, “We’re trying to see that frost doesn’t get into the ground on the site.”

To ensure that does not happen, the city has been inspecting the site daily. Representatives of the architect, Herbert Semple, and the contractor, Lawlor Corp. of Medford, Mass., were on hand for Temple’s inspections.

“The plans call for winter protection of the ground under the concrete. They were going to have tenting over it and heat it, which they did for a while, and then the weather got warmer and they stopped,” Temple said.

Now that temperatures have turned cold again, Temple said he was growing concerned because the builders have yet to go back to their original plans, a potential violation of the building code.

“The code says you have to protect it from frost. We had to go out there and say, `We don’t feel you’re doing it,”‘ he said.

Temple said he met Monday morning with SAD 34 and the architect. When he asked for a consistent plan on frost protection, Temple said they replied by asking him for suggestions on how to provide the protection. Temple said he declined because it was not his job to provide such information.

“We were just trying to nail it down. We don’t want them to change the name of the game every day,” he said.

Luttrell said ground protection was being done according to the specifications. He said the ground under the footings was tented and heated for three to five days after the pour. The contractor then removed the forms and back-filled an area four feet around the footings with Styrofoam insulation, hay and dirt.

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