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Items checked off punch list at new Muldown building, work continues to convert former school

by WHITNEY ENGLAND
Reporter | January 27, 2021 1:00 AM

Work on the Muldown Elementary School construction project continues on with substantial progress being made while remaining under budget.

The Whitefish School District owner's representative Dow Powell earlier this month presented an update for the project in a board meeting earlier this month, stating that the holiday break allowed for much work to be completed.

Although the new school building was technically finished prior to the school year, there have been a few lingering tasks that needed attention. Powell said while school was not in session over the break, crews had an opportunity to replace valves in the heating system that were incorrectly installed. Replacing the valves with the right hardware eliminates a cumbersome clanking noise that was present in certain areas of the school.

“I walked through the school last week, spoke with several of the staff and everybody was thankful that it was a little quieter,” Powell said at the meeting.

Other items completed in the new Muldown building over the break included installing a screen and projector in a common area, and gathering rugs that they’d been waiting on receiving for months had finally arrived.

Work also includes construction of a maintenance and receiving building near the former school building site and buttoning up the old kindergarten wing that was preserved when the rest of the building was torn down. Powell says that because the district has been smart with its money during this project and carried a contingency throughout the entire duration, these two extra buildings will actually be completely functional spaces by the time the work is finished.

“This building, probably by the middle of April, will be totally usable,” he said of the annex which was previously the old kindergarten wing. “Not entirely remodeled, but totally refurbished all new paint, new flooring, secure entries, office space for an admin person.”

“We’ve been pretty efficient with our money and we’re able to do more to that building than we ever thought we would,” he added.

The original plan was to close up the areas that were exposed after the demolition of the rest of the building and install a new heating system to keep the pipes from freezing. However, according to Powell, this will now be six extra classrooms and some administrative space completed and ready for use as the district sees fit.

In the annex the sheetrock is finished, it will soon be painted and technology items will be purchased to complete the space.

Martell Construction is also making significant progress on the maintenance and receiving building which is now enclosed, insulated and siding is currently in progress with roofing on deck. Powell expected the framing of office spaces and mechanical areas inside the building should start within the next few weeks.

“That building is changing rapidly and looking very well, on budget,” he noted.

Another undertaking in the works is a path that would pave a way for anyone to walk from the kitchen of the new Muldown around the playground and over to the entry of the annex building. The sitework is currently being prepped for this pathway. In addition all exterior painting, landscaping and irrigation is scheduled for the spring.

Powell said that this additional work to the annex and the smaller tasks on the property is being funded by the contingency that they carried throughout the project. He expects that contingency fund will remain close to $300,000, though some of it will be used in the coming months.

“I’m very happy with our contractor, Martell’s going over and beyond,” Powell said. “Our contract with them right now is about $1.5 million dollars left on our contract total.”

In 2017 the Whitefish School District received a voter-approved $26.3 million bond to build the new Muldown Elementary School. Construction crews broke ground on the new building in July 2018 just one day after design plans were approved by the City of Whitefish.

The main construction of the new school building was completed prior to the beginning of the 2020-21 school year and opened Aug. 26, 2020.