Construction nears completion
By Bret Bradigan
Come the conclusion of their
winter break Jan. 6, Nordhoff students will return to what is,
essentially, a brand-new, $6.2 million, 30,000 square-foot school.
Gone are the low-rise blocks of crumbling concrete. In their
place have risen four new buildings, including two buildings
for science classrooms and laboratories; a music building with
practice rooms, band room and a hardwood dance floor; and a triangular-shaped
Gone also will be most of the construction disruption, with the
40-acre school site ribboned with construction fence and furrowed
with utility trenches. Most, but not all.
This project comes courtesy of the largesse of state, and local,
voters, through Proposition 47 bonds, and from the fall 1997
election, who, by 71.8 percent of the 4,000 votes cast, passed
the $15 million general obligation bonds. With matching funds,
a new facilities and modernization construction stockpile of
nearly $30 million has been accumulated by the Ojai Unified School
Designed by an architectural firm from Orange County, which specializes
in school projects, the style, which incorporates natural light,
reflective surfaces and yields to its environment more than previous
buildings, from the late 1950s, "is what I call progressive
Spanish," said Jim Berube, Ojai Unified School District
Assistant Superintendent. "It fits better with the town,
but has a little more of a future look."
Lundgren Management Corporation is managing the project, which
began about a year ago, and is expected to conclude by mid-January,
with the new locker room. The administrators, including counselors
and the on-campus police officer, will move into their new building
during the winter break, which begins Dec. 19.
While the enrollment at Nordhoff High School, presently 1,250
students, is expected to decline, the need for renovating the
old buildings has only accelerated, said Don Holmquist, Lundgren's
on-site project manager. He noted that few schools of Nordhoff's
size have administration crammed into classroom buildings, and
entirely lack an auditorium. Nordhoff's highly regarded music
department also lacked its own facilities. "They've been
making do for 25 years without the advantages that other schools
have," he said.
The old buildings will still be put to good use, with plans to
convert them into a student center and vocational educational
Construction has proceeded in fits and starts, though the opening
date is still on track, he said. "We have had a lot of challenges
with the weather with running utilities to the buildings, and
they (subcontractors) have dealt with them admirably," Holmquist
said, adding that most of the changes from the original plans
"were value added," such as skylights and paving, rather
than underestimated costs.
The paving project, Berube said, has completely redesigned the
hard-to-navigate parking lot at Nordhoff, in which drivers often
have to exit back on to Maricopa Highway to return to the school
parking lot, adding more spaces and a more logical flow.
And that is only part of it. Berube said the district "has
work we're doing two years out."
Some of that work has already begun. The gym has a newly polished
floor and new, automated bleachers. The locker rooms are expected
to be complete mid-January. The baseball field will have new
dugouts, concessions booths, electronic signs, and an area for
discus and shotput field events. Ojai Community Stadium will
have new lights, a nine-track all-weather track, and 500 new
seats added to the 1,500 already in place on the home side, and
1,000 seats on the visitor side, for 3,000 total seats.
Those playing field improvements will partly take place under
the auspices of the biggest project on the docket, the $2.1 million
joint effort with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy to solve chronic
drainage problems at Nordhoff's playing fields by raising and
tilting them toward the Ojai Meadows Preserve. To raise those
fields the required 18 inches will take 100,000 cubic-feet of
fill. The Ojai Valley News will examine that project in the Nov.
These projects, particularly the new construction, came out of
a needs assessment done in 1997 that led to the bond issue.
The Ojai Valley News
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