Eagle River Elementary makes strides to return to community next fall

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 5:22 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School District is 14 weeks into a 60-week scheduled project to revitalize and upgrade Eagle River Elementary.

“We had some significant damage to the walls, the roof and the gym area,” ASD Senior Director of Capital Planning and Construction Tom Fenoseff said. “So that’s what triggered not only the repair of the building but also some needed improvement.”

In November 2018, the 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked the Anchorage area and knocked the school offline. Nearly two years later, construction and demolition are underway. New floors, paint, ceilings, lighting and electronics are part of the new improvements.

Project Manager Nick Bell says the reason the school was red-tagged and taken offline is because of the damage sustained in the gymnasium.

“That roof in that area was not stable,” Bell said. “We stabilized it immediately after the earthquake, shoring it up so that it wouldn’t fall down, but given the number of aftershocks and stuff like that, we couldn’t operate in the building safely.”

This summer, work crews tore off the old roof and removed the outer facade.

“On the outside, you’re going to have a new veneer,” Fenoseff said. “A metal type veneer as opposed to the concrete masonry that was there before, it’s a lot more seismically resistant and easier to maintain. The inside is completely gutted, it’s going to be a new building.”

The school also will have a new state of the art security system at the entrance.

“We’ve added several thousand square feet to the building which was predicated in bringing out the entrance due to the fact that the gym and the MPR additions had been added to the original building,” Bell said. “So by bringing this all out we can have that control flow, you can’t get beyond the second set of doors, you have to go into the office to get signed in, checked in and out.”

The way the old entrance was configured, anyone could have walked into the building and started wandering around. The addition will also house a new nurses' station with two beds and ADA-compliant restrooms which the office didn’t have before.

Bell says the roof should be complete in the next two weeks and then the focus will be on the inside.

The project is expected to be complete in August of 2021 just in time for the start of school.

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