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Myers Park High gets needed renovations

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com

For more than 60 years, Myers Park High School has seen thousands of students complete final exams, go to lunch with friends and walk out the doors one last time before graduation day.

But the school has become so worn in places that its gymnasium was condemned.

And yet hundreds of new students flood the hallways each fall.

“We are in dire need,” said Marinn Bengel, co-president of the school’s Parent Teacher Student Organization. “We would not go to work in these buildings and yet we ask our kids to go to class in them.”

Work is under way to give the school a makeover.

With funds from a 2007 bond referendum, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools staff has contracted to replace 1,500 seats on the visitors side of the football field with aluminum bleachers, said Guy Chamberlain, associate superintendent for auxiliary services.

The $2.1 million project, which is expected to be completed by the end of August, also includes new concessions and restrooms as well as improved wheelchair accessibility.

Construction of the school’s new gymnasium will start next month.

The building will be beside the existing gym and will seat about 1,200 people.

The $7.3 million project will also include utility relocations and interior road and parking lot realignment and paving.

The project is expected to be completed by August 2014. The original gymnasium will be used for physical education and the new gym will be used for physical education and interscholastic competition, said Chamberlain.

Next, workers will renovate the school’s language arts building.

The $5 million project will include mechanical work on the heating and air conditioning system, new interior finishes, electrical and plumbing improvements and upgraded bathrooms.

That project is expected to begin in June 2014 and end in August 2015.

Chamberlain said CMS originally planned the gymnasium construction and building renovations at the same time.

“But the campus is too jammed with mobiles (trailers) and cars and kids that there’s not enough room for us to do two projects at one time,” he said.

An even bigger renovation project may come to the school in the next few years if residents vote favorably in November: a new 50-classroom multi-story building. This project is one of 18 CMS will present to the County Commissioners next week for consideration in a $300 million bond referendum in November. The $22.2 million project would replace three existing buildings, the newest of which dates back to 1963.

Once complete, the existing three classroom buildings (totally about 40,000 square feet) would be demolished.

“That’s going to be a pretty substantial project,” said Chamberlain. “It should really bring most of the space on the campus up to a substantially better standard.”

Bengel said the renovations are long overdue.

“We’ve needed this for a while,” she said. “Our school is way below the standards of Charlotte and what we would say about ourselves as a world-class city.”

Arriero: 704-804-2637; On Twitter: @earriero
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