Cape Elizabeth gym floor replacement slightly behind schedule

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The high school gymnasium will reopen a week later than expected after it was extensively damaged by water last month.

The delay has forced the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams to find alternative places to practice, and a change of venue for the boys’ season-opening game on Friday night.

The gym floor, which is only 2 years old, is being replaced because it was damaged when a student accidentally kicked a soccer ball into a ceiling-mounted fire sprinkler Oct. 31.

The replacement work was expected to be completed by Dec. 5, but was delayed because materials weren’t shipped on time.

As of Dec. 6, the floor had been laid and sanded, and two coats of polyurethane were applied. School Deparment Facilities Director Greg Marles said the sealing will take the rest of the week to dry. 

Marles said he will test the moisture level of the floor Sunday, and, depending on how dry it is, the gym will reopen to students on Monday or Tuesday, Dec. 12 or 13. 

“It all comes down to drying time,” he said.

The work has cost $150,000, plus up to $30,000 for cleanup, but Marles said the cost will be covered by insurance.

The sprinkler head, which is on the ceiling 21 feet above the gym floor, released 800-1,000 gallons of water when it was hit, Marles said last month. The ball broke a protective cage in addition to the sprinkler. The student who was responsible was not punished because the damage was accidental.

The floor of the gym, which had a surface of maple harvested from sustainable forests and a substructure of recycled plastic, was installed in August 2014 by Connor Sports Flooring. It was needed because the old floor was also damaged by water when a piece of equipment froze and pipes burst. Several hundred gallons of water spilled on the old gym floor.

The floor is being replaced with the same materials, and Connor Sports Flooring began work the day after the incident. The difference this time, Marles said, is that the school will also replace all 100 sprinkler cages in the gym with specially designed enclosures that are more resistant to damage.

Replacing the floor and closing the gym have resulted in the rearrangement of some events and activities. Election Day voting, which traditionally is conducted in the gym, took place in the school cafeteria Nov. 8.

Gym classes haven’t been too inconvenienced, Marles said, because a swimming unit usually scheduled later in the year was moved up.

One inconvenience, though, has been for the school’s basketball teams, which started practicing on Nov. 21.

Chris Casterella, the girls’ varsity basketball coach, said the teams have been using gyms at the middle school, Southern Maine Community College and Scarborough High School.

“It’s a scheduling nightmare trying to find available gyms,” she said.

The boys’ and girls’ teams both have their first games on Friday, Dec. 9, against Greely High School. The boys were supposed to play at home, but can’t because the gym won’t be ready. Instead, the teams will play back-to-back games at Greely in Cumberland.

Despite the hassle of moving the team to alternative locations, Casterella said the situation could have been worse.

“It’s later practice times, but we’ve still been able to practice,” she said. “That’s all that matters.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

According to Facilities Director Greg Marles, the new gym floor at Cape Elizabeth High School that was replaced due to water damage will be ready for students by Dec. 12 or 13.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.