By Ron Leir
The shine has worn on the yellow tiled wall; all that remains of the benches are the anchor supports; and the doors to the empty metal cabinets swing open.
For more than four decades, thousands of students showered and changed in the locker rooms at the then- Harrison High School at S. Fifth St. and Harrison Ave.
But, in the fall of 2007, those facilities have sat idle since the Harrison Board of Education opened a new high school on the old Clayton Container site bordering West Hudson Park and the old high school was converted to Washington Middle School for grades 6 to 8.
Now, under an initiative by Superintendent of Schools James Doran, the board is taking steps to revitalize the “functionally obsolete” space with a new purpose.
On Aug. 1, on the recommendation of its consulting engineers Remington, Vernick & Arango of Bordentown, the board voted to award K&D Contractors of Kenilworth the job of renovating the locker room space for $1,098,000.
Documents on file with the board show that K&D was the lowest of four bidders. The other firms that submitted bids were Preziosi Construction Corp. of Short Hills, $1,140,000; Two Brothers Contracting of Clifton, $1,232,235; and Salazar Associates of Union, $1,352,000.
Doran said part of the renovation plan will involve disposing of the smaller set of bleachers stored in the wall of the gym adjoining the old girls’ locker rooms and taking out part of that wall, installing big plate glass windows and doors that will lead to a new weight training room.
Then, Doran said, on the other side of the gym, in the wing where the old boys’ locker rooms are located, that space will be converted to accommodate the school child study team members, whose old office was “bumped” by the recent construction of the new school cafeteria.
The contractor is being instructed to salvage as much of the yellow tiles as possible so they can be incorporated as part of the entranceway to the gym, school officials said.
Doran said the target date for completion of the project is “by the end of the Christmas vacation period.”
Along with the new dining area, the district recently updated the 46-year-old school’s student bathroom facilities.
At Hamilton Intermediate School for grades 4 and 5, the district recently upgraded the building’s lower gym space for instructional purposes and converted the former child study team space into classrooms.
In another capital improvement move, the district is preparing to replace the roof of its Sixth St. garage which houses its four school buses. The roof has been leaking for some time and “we keep patching it,” one official said. Now the time has come for a more permanent fix to prevent damage to the vehicles.
On Aug. 6, the board accepted bids from five companies ranging up to $171,800 and the lowest apparent bidder was Build Rite LLC of Wayne with a price of $71,200. A contract award is imminent.