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School construction two months behind schedule

By David Scharfenberg, Daily Planet staff
Monday December 10, 2001

Construction of the new “Milvia buildings” on the Berkeley High School campus is running two months behind schedule, school officials said, pushing back the expected completion date to June 2003. 

Meanwhile, community activists are asking for development of a campus master plan and a greater voice in deciding the fate of open space adjacent to the construction site. The space became available this summer when the Berkeley Board of Education asked Arntz Builders, contractor for the Milvia project, to tear down the high school’s B Building damaged in a fire last year. 

Lew Jones, manager of facilities planning for the school district, said the delays resulted from the unexpected discovery of several underground obstacles to construction at the site, which once housed a PG&E facility, and more recently featured a school cafeteria and heating plant.  

The obstacles, Jones said, were an old PG&E storage tank, the foundations of school district and PG&E buildings, and an old PG&E switch, or “distribution point.” 

Jones, and project manager Bob Arntz of Arntz Builders, said the delays are normal for a project of this size.  

Bruce Wicinas, father of two students at BHS, and a member of the Citizens’ Construction Advisory Committee, agreed.  

“Based on where the delay came from, that’s actually not bad,” Wicinas said, referring to the two-month hold-up. “There’s no reason to believe the rest of the project will be like this.” 

Jones said the delays have not led to any significant changes to the project’s $36 million budget, although the district has dipped into some of its contingency funds, built into the budget, since construction began in February. 

When the two buildings are complete, the northern facility will include a student