Created on Tuesday, 25 June 2013 10:54
Written by Dan Brechlin   

MERIDEN — If a tree falls next to Maloney High School — but there was no ceremony to kick off the construction — then is the three-year project really under way? The answer Monday was an emphatic “Yes.” The $107.5 million school renovation had begun.

Workers were on site Monday morning and throughout the afternoon. Clearing trees on the north side of the school was the first step in the construction process. Starting the project after years of planning is something School Superintendent Mark D. Benigni said he’s excited about.

“After years of planning, we are now moving forward with the construction of a state-of-the-art high school for our students, staff and community,” Benigni said. “These structures will offer exceptional learning facilities as well as serve as a great community resource. When complete, Meriden will have a school facility to be proud of.”

The official groundbreaking ceremony for renovations will be held Thursday, about 56 years after the groundbreaking for the original Maloney, built in just under two years at a cost of $2.76 million.

The three-year renovation project includes improvements to the interior and exterior of the school, building a new classroom wing, demolishing an old one and modernizing the entire school.


Monday’s tree clearing was the beginning of site work along the north end of the Maloney property, near Gravel Street, to merge Maloney’s 121 Gravel St. parcel with the now-city-owned, 163 Gravel St. property. The city purchased 163 and 179 Gravel St. to create a staging area for the project, and for permanent parking later.

Starting in the morning, an excavator had removed the dividing line of trees by noon, turning it into a path of branches and a pile of large logs.

Removing the trees from the site is the responsibility of a contractor, said Karrie Kratz, project manager for Gilbane Inc. From there, it will likely be processed “into some sort of other wood product,” she said. Plainville-based Manafort Brothers Inc. is overseeing site work.

During the afternoon, Principal Jennifer Straub took a minute to take photos of the tree removal with her iPad. Straub said she will not be at the school for a few days because of conferences she is attending in New Haven.

“It’s going so quickly already,” Straub said. “When I come back, it might already be a parking lot.”

Straub, who was recently named principal of the school, said she is excited for the project and glad that it is under way.

“It’s exciting,” Straub said. “I’m really looking forward to the outcome.”

Straub commended Gilbane and Kratz for keeping her up to date on what is going on at the school and the renovation process and looks forward to the “good communication” continuing. Straub added that she was impressed by the safety precautions the school administration has been briefed on.

Renovation will continue for the next few years, with a planned end date of August 2016. The project could have started last week, but administrators wanted to avoid having the downed trees during the graduation ceremony, which was held Friday.