Orange County Public Schools has announced that the opening of the new Audubon Park K-8 will be delayed until Fall 2018.
I attended a presentation on the delay recently and came away with the following information:
Ground samples taken from the Little League field after North Orlando Kiwanis Little League’s contract ended at the end of June 2015 revealed muck underground.
Once they had access to the land they bored into the ground the check the soil. Normally these samples are 20 to 40′ deep. They had already done them all over the property, where they have access. When they got to the Little League field (where the parking garage was supposed to go), they encountered muck at 40′ down. Muck is akin to peat. It is somewhat spongy and porous. Then they drilled down 200′ and it was still muck. The engineering firm sent this off for pressure testing. The results indicated that any building on it would settle “a couple of inches,” which is too much as anything over one inch is unacceptable. Note: This area is not the sinkhole area, which is further down the property and where on the current site plan they have indicated a dry retention pond.
They have determined that a new site plan will be needed. The engineer explained that normally in Florida you want a shallow foundation, as obviously this is much cheaper. When engineering firms have to, they will support a foundation with foundation piles – reinforced concrete columns, basically, driven deep underground to support the structure. This drives the cost up by millions of dollars, according to the engineer, so their plan now is a site redesign.
So now OCPS is planning for a Fall 2018 open for the school.
The site of the old sinkhole will remain a dry retention pond. Any site redesign will continue to avoid building anything on that area.
The demo will continue as planned. They plan to have all buildings razed by March 18, 2016. Once the buildings have been leveled they will be able to study the land where buildings currently sit. By April 15, 2016 they will have conducted additional drilling, as well as ground penetrating radar studies. Once this is complete they will be able to address a new site plan. They assured the crowd that they will conduct the same design meetings that they did in 2015 and hold 30%, 60% and 100% design reviews with the public. August 30, 2016 is the target date to have the redesign site plan and approvals in place. The goal is to have “substantial construction” completed by summer 2018.
All other school construction is moving forward in Orange County. This, however, means that Fern Creek students will be moved to Princeton in the fall of 2017, as Fern Creek is slated to become a swing site, Hillcrest students moving to Fern Creek, so that Hillcrest can begin its renovation. There was also mention of students being allowed to stay at Princeton but please check with OCPS on any details on that. I haven’t been following all the school shifting and students being grandfathered in here and there, as my personal interest has been on the Audubon Park site and not student enrollment, etc.
As APGD has been working closely with the City of Orlando and OCPS all along, we’ll continue to monitor this and keep you posted on updates.