Portland celebrates completion of Reiche upgrades

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PORTLAND — The Reiche School community this week will celebrate completion of a significant capital investment designed to serve the students and the public for years to come.

The primary goal of the $800,000 project was to create a new entrance off Clark Street that not only provides elevator access to the community room and other public facilities on the second floor, but also separates the public and school sides of the building.

In addition, a new ramp for handicapped access was added inside the school and a new door was built into the gym that allows students to access the space without having to go use the public hallway.

A ribbon-cutting to celebrate the completed project was scheduled for Wednesday, with tours of the renovations. District 2 City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, who was instrumental in getting the project approved, and finding the funding, will be at the ceremony.

“I’m so thankful to have worked side by side with Reiche parents, the city manager, city staff, and my colleagues on the City Council to help make these school infrastructure improvements a reality,” Thibodeau said in a press release.

“Our children and our community deserve 21st century facilities that work for them, and I believe this investment demonstrates the city’s commitment to ensuring that reality for all,” he said.

Dave Onos, the school facilities manager for the city, said the Reiche project was “fast tracked;” construction started at the beginning of July.

The former entrance ramp off Clark Street was taken down in February due to structural and safety concerns. And Onos said a similar ramp on the Brackett Street side of the school is now slated to come down some time next spring, since the new public entrance lobby on Clark is ready for use.

In addition to removing the Clark Street ramp and building the new entrance on that side of the school, the approach to the building was also regraded and raised to match the level of the first floor.

Construction of the new public entrance lobby has also improved school security, the press release said.

“The goal was to separate the public and school side, which has always been an issue,” Onos said, recalling that members of the public often walked through the school to utilize the community pool.

He said work was also done over the summer on the roof at Reiche to address chronic leaks. Onos said the work done to repair the roof should last 10-12 years.

“I’d like to thank Councilor Thibodeau for his leadership on this effort, and I’d like to thank our facilities team for addressing these concerns in a timely and efficient manner,” City Manager Jon Jennings said in the press release.

“These improvements will go far in ensuring a more safe and accessible school building and community center for all.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

An $800,000 project at Reiche Elementary School in Portland’s west end included this new entrance to the school’s public areas, as well as a new elevator and other improvements.

A ramp on the Brackett Street side of Reiche Elementary is slated for removal sometime this spring. A similar ramp on the Clark Street side of the building has now been replaced with a new public entrance lobby.