COLUMBIA CITY — The unseasonably mild temperatures in April may have been a spirit downer for local residents, but it didn’t cause any delays for crews working on Columbia City’s two multimillion-dollar projects — the new city aquatics facility and Columbia City High School.
Tom Smith, from Skillman, the CCHS construction management team, said that although the team would have appreciated warmer temperatures, they didn’t count on good weather.
“Historically, we cannot plan on the weather being much better than the amount of rainfall and cooler temperatures we have seen,” Smith said.
Columbia City saw snow as late as April 19 and even saw patchy frost in late April. The average high temperature in April in Whitley County is 60 degrees, but Columbia City didn’t see many days over 60 last month.
As for the Russel and Evelyn Fahl Aquatics Center, the weather did not impact construction, and crews continue to make quick work of the project, with a projected opening this summer.
“The construction guys have been working right through the rain, wind and snow,” said Park Director Mark Green. “At times it is a very muddy mess over there.”
The pool’s construction was set back a few weeks from the outset, as an unexpected issue was found after removing the old Burnworth Pool.
“The only thing that set the construction back was the unsuitable soil that was lying under the old pool,” Green said. “The soil had to be moved completely off the premises.”
The goal is to open the pool by the end of June after staff has the opportunity for training and equipment is in place. However, registration for the park department’s summer swim team is underway. Those interested can contact Jacob Johnson at 248-5180, and memberships are being sold at the park office.
As for the high school, which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2020, Smith said construction is on schedule and progressing well.
“We monitor and manage the weather all year long,” Smith said.
The biggest challenge is accessibility around the site.
“Ideally, we’re able to grade off and sheet drain water away from our work areas,” Smith said. “Having machinery running around our clay site that is getting rained on as quickly as it dries up causes rutting.”
The rutting holds or blocks water, which means crews have to re-grade the site continually throughout construction.
“Even with this, we knew the site was clay and that it would be a challenge during any rain event, regardless of the time of year.”