LOHS officials forced to close new gym because of structural concerns

Yet again, the six-year-old Lake Oswego High School building is struck with structural issues - this time prompting the closure of the new gym.

The decision to close the gym and adjacent wrestling room was announced Friday.

District officials had thought repairs would be concluded this summer, but a new discovery last week caught the attention of administrators.

Parts of the school have been reconstructed over the last year due to what the district views as construction defects made by Robinson Construction Company and its subcontractors during the building's initial construction in 2005.

Unlike before, the previous round of repairs, the gym does not appear to have any leaking issues, explained school district Financial Director Stuart Ketzler. Instead, some screws in the roof were discovered to be coming loose, and after some investigation and tests, workers also found a buildup of moisture in the wood. The structural integrity of the roof is now in question, and the roof could potentially collapse in the event of an earthquake, heavy rain, winds or snow, officials said.

Currently, design work is under way to correct the roof's deficiencies, and that should be completed in two to three weeks. Then, reconstruction will begin immediately. Though a date to reopen the gym isn't certain, LOHS Principal Bruce Plato currently estimates that the fixes will take about three months.

'We know the impact to our students, staff and parents involved in our athletic and extracurricular activities will be significant,' Plato wrote to the school community.

Activities, such as volleyball, basketball, wrestling and P.E. will be affected, but plans to use other facilities are not solidified. Likely, it will include use of the old gym and other nearby facilities, such as Lake Oswego Junior High School and Uplands Elementary School, said Ketzler. (For more information on the impact to sports, see page A15).

This isn't the first time that LOHS students have had to adjust to facility issues at the beginning of a school year. Last year, students could not use the front door due to reconstruction, which dismantled parts of some math classrooms, the theater fly loft, library and cafeteria to make way for work crews.

Hoping to recover costs of the repairs, the district filed a claim in July 2009 against Robinson. Last summer's repairs cost the district upwards of $2.8 million for work done by Charter Construction. This summer the district contracted with Core Construction for another $1.8 million of work.

Robinson has filed corresponding suits with its subcontractors, and mediation is ongoing. Though a cost estimate of the latest issues has not been made, the expense for fixing the new gym will be added to the claim.

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