Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Bad slab jacked gym job cost


Unexpected, asbestos-laden materials and flaws in an original, concrete slab pushed up the cost of replacing the school’s gym floor $134,000, according to Haines Borough director of public facilities Brian Lemcke.

Haines Borough Assembly members approved the extra funding last week, along with $22,000 for renovation of the school’s art room into district offices, including wiring changes and construction of a new, interior wall. Art will move into a windowless, interior room that served as the school’s woodshop previous to reconstruction of the school in 2007.

School officials were expecting to pay for asbestos removal after a sample of flooring the district tested showed asbestos in glue used to adhere the maple floor and a cork underlayer to a concrete slab underneath.

What the sample didn’t show, according to Lemcke, were layers of tar and tarpaper – also containing asbestos – that were pasted together to make the floor surface level during construction of the gym in 1973.

The gym’s builders used as many as five layers of tar and paper to make up for an uneven slab. That was difficult to remove, Lemcke said. “It was so well-adhered they spent days sanding and grinding to get down to concrete.”

The concrete floor showed variations of up to three-quarters of an inch, and may have been poured during a rainfall. “It’s just a really poor slab. The floor guys said it was way too rough for what we need,” Lemcke said.

After sandblasting the floor, workers started this week pouring a type of bonding cement intended to level and smooth the slab.

Due to the unexpected work, it’s not certain the new floor will be done when school starts Aug. 21. New bleachers for the gym won’t be here until September.

The old floor consisted of inch-thick maple and a lay or cork about three-eighths of an inch thick. The new floor is three-quarter-inch hardwood, supported by flexible steel above a rubber cushion.

The new floor is designed to give on impact and will potentially reduce injuries. The extra cost, including the art room changes, will use $488,000 of $500,000 in available funding. North Pacific Erectors is doing the work.

“We’re right at the limit of the money we have,” Lemcke said. “If it does run over, the district will have to kick in the (extra) money. What we thought was going to be a straightforward project this summer turned into something a lot more complicated.”

The old gym bleachers will be dismantled. The school will salvage planking and scrap the metal frames, Lemcke said.