Weather delays garage completion

Heavy summer rains and excessive heat have forced construction workers building the College’s new parking garage to work overtime to keep the project close to schedule. Although the project has remained within its $9,800,000 budget, it is currently approximately one week behind schedule.

The 80,000 square foot, three-story parking garage and cooling plant facility, currently under construction towards the rear of the Greylock Quad, is slated for completion by November. That date is later than the College first anticipated, said Catharine Hill, provost of the College. “[The November date] has been the expected completion date for awhile, although originally we had hoped to have it ready earlier,” Hill said.

The parking facility will accompany the renovations scheduled for Adams Memorial Theater, which include a high-tech theater and dance complex. “The parking garage was planned and programmed to meet the needs of the new theater facility when performances are given. It also will serve as faculty [and] staff parking,” said Eric Beattie, director of facilities planning and construction for Buildings and Grounds.

The brick and metal structure will be accessible to College patrons through its first level, which also grants access to the garage’s two underground levels. Drivers will be able to maneuver throughout the garage via ramps that connect each level. The garage will not contain any elevators, due to its relatively small size. It will hold approximately 240 vehicles. Most of the first level will be reserved for handicapped parking.

Beattie said that early rains caused most of the building delays that have affected the garage. “It rained heavily [during] the early part of the summer slowing down the excavation work, so the workers have been working overtime since then to try to maintain the schedule,” he said.

Rick Luttazi, Barr & Barr Builders, Inc.’s superintendent for the project recalled one problem that slightly hampered the construction of the parking facility: the flooding of part of the site. A hole was dug between forty and fifty feet deep in preparation for the garage’s foundation. Unexpectedly, heavy rains filled a portion of the hole, and flooded the Adams Memorial Theater’s underground electrical complex. Minimal damage was incurred. “So far so good,” said Luttazi.

Beattie said that soil quality has also affected the building process. “The soils on the site are weak, which has been one of the unusual challenges faced and resulted in larger than normal concrete footings As a result, the footings are designed to spread the load over a larger area than is considered typical,” he said.

“The garage will also have some interesting brick and metal detailing that is unusual for a garage, but since it is in a visible part of campus the College felt that we should put additional effort into making it attractive,” Beattie said.

For various reasons, students will not be able to use the garage. “While faculty and staff parking is complimentary to the need for evening parking for theater performances (most faculty and staff go home at night), student parking would not work because of this obvious overlap,” Beattie said. “There would be no place to have students move their cars to when evening performances come up, and you can imagine the problems of trying to contact students to get them to move their cars. This was determined to be an unworkable option.”

Jim Kolesar, director of public affairs, shared the same sentiments as Beattie. “It would be [almost] impossible to remove students before performances,” he said.

According to Kolesar, the number of parking spaces was originally determined only by the expected number of theatergoers and not by the number of theatergoers combined with the number of students who initially parked in the Greylock Quad. If the latter were the case, added Kolesar, the parking facility would be a “massive” structure.

With the garage’s use being limited, “the equivalent number of student spaces that previously existed in the Greylock lot were replicated at the Thompson Dormitory Lot instead of assigning them to the parking garage,” Beattie said.

Daily construction on the garage cannot begin before 7 a.m. Luttazi said that he has received minimal complaints. Williamstown Police Officers can be seen daily along North Street, directing traffic in and out of the construction site.

Beattie expressed regret over the unavoidable inconveniences associated with the project.

“We realize it is very close to Greylock Quad and we thank everyone there for their patience and understanding as we work toward completion.

We realize it is a nuisance now, but hope everyone can bear with it and keep the end result in mind, which will be an exciting Center for Theatre and Dance,” he said.