Groundbreaking for Havre de Grace Middle/High replacement will be April 12, site prep work begins

A ground-breaking ceremony for the new Havre de Grace Middle/High School has been scheduled next month as site preparation work begins for the $81.6 million replacement for the aging Havre de Grace High School and Havre de Grace Middle School.

Construction workers and their earth-moving machines were in the fields adjacent to the middle school and the Havre de Grace Activity Center off of Lewis Lane Wednesday afternoon, separated from those facilities by a chain-link fence.

More sections of fence have been erected along the side of the middle school facing Revolution Street. The site of the new school is bordered by the existing middle school and the activity center, the Amtrak rail line and the existing high school’s James R. Harris Stadium, according to a site plan provided by Harford County Public Schools.

The initial site work includes installing sediment and elements of erosion control, building stormwater management facilities and “scraping and grading activities,” Joseph Licata, chief of administration for Harford County Public Schools, said in an email Wednesday.

The groundbreaking has been scheduled for April 12 from 1 to 2 p.m. The HCPS communications office is preparing invitations and a program, according to Licata.

Once the site preparation and grading is complete, underground utilities will be installed followed by the footings and foundations and then construction of the school building, Licata stated.

School system officials still expect students and staff will occupy the building in 2020, Licata said.

The existing high school at Congress Avenue and Juniata Street will be demolished once the new building is occupied, and a parking lot will be built in its place. The auditorium and gymnasium building on the south side of Congress Avenue is slated for demolition, too, “unless an alternate use is proposed and developed by others,” Licata stated.

The middle school will be demolished, too, once the new building is occupied, according to Licata.

School system officials expect schedules will continue as normal for the middle and high school during construction, and activity on the new site will not interfere with their daily operations, according to Licata.

“The only exception is that some practice athletic fields will be lost during construction and those teams affected will be relocated to alternate practice facilities during construction,” Licata stated. “The same is true for parks and recreation activities during construction.”

Members of the Havre de Grace community and their elected representatives have spent years trying to get replacement schools built. Havre de Grace Middle School was built in 1967. The high school opened in 1955 and underwent its last major renovation in 1984. The gym/auditorium across the street opened in 1971.

Board of Education member Thomas Fitzpatrick, who represents the Havre de Grace area and has been among the advocates for a new school, announced during Monday’s board meeting that construction fencing had been installed around the building site.

“So we’re on our way,” Fitzpatrick said.

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