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Always: Wellness Talks

By Lori Schloeder Gress

Anyone that knows me very well, knows that I always like to have a plan in place before I start any project. I always like the details to be spelled out as much as possible so there are not unexpected surprises along the way.  Like many of you, I have seen the plans for the building interior – both first and second floors, the exterior and the site plans – and they are exciting!  But, I hadn’t seen the schedule of when things were going to be happening!  So, I called Brad Swenson and asked him for a copy of the “Preliminary Project Schedule” from the Contractors so I could figure out when we could all go swimming!  Bottom line – when is the pool going to be ready for us to swim??  That is the question 98 percent of us want to know!!

A brief explanation of each phase for those of you, who are like me and always enjoy the details:

Site Preparation (10/7/13 - 11/15/13)

The site preparation literally started a few days after the Wadena City Council gave unanimous approval for the project to proceed.  If you drive by the construction site, you will see that it has now been fenced off for safety reasons – especially around the school area.  The location has a temporary sign in place indicating the project is the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center, along with the donations and funding that made the project possible and the names of the Architects, Engineers and Construction Company.  And there is big equipment (my technical term!) moving the soil to perform tests for potential problems with excavations and concrete pouring.  The grounds are searched for hidden dangers such as old excavation shafts, cables and drainage channels.  Existing services such as water, electricity and gas need to be located.  Site facilities are usually brought in and include port-a-potties, and a construction trailer/office with a place for phone lines and internet.  Spaces are allocated for material storage and equipment. And security systems are installed because of the high crime rates on construction sites.

Building Excavation and Foundations (11/18/13 - 12/27/13)

The plot plan will guide the surveyor to do the staking out. For a large project, a transit will be used, an instrument that establishes elevations and levels and points, to help precisely locate where the new excavation is to be done. When the staking out is completed, there will probably be stakes and connecting strings that mark where the excavation is to be done. Perhaps lines of lime will criss­cross the ground, extending beyond the actual location of the foundation or cellar hole to guide the workers with the earth-moving machines (must be a non-technical term!)  The purpose of staking out is to make sure the new foundation is where it is supposed to be and matches the site plan.

Now the noise begins. Diesel-powered earth-moving machines arrive - often a back hoe, a bulldozer with a wide blade, and maybe an excavator, with its long arm and the bucket at the end. None of these machines move quickly; they weren’t built for speed. But they will leave a foundation hole dug to a depth of at least six inches below the frost line.

The frost line is the depth to which the winter frost penetrates the earth. In the northern United States, that means the foundation must be at least 3 or even 4 feet below grade. The base or “footing” of a foundation must be beneath the frost line to prevent the frost from thrusting portions of the founda­tion upward and causing the building to settle unevenly (which would result in cracks in the foundation and, eventually, cracks and other damage).

The potential problems during the excavation process are too many rocks; too much water or soil problems. Some soils simply aren’t firm enough to bear the weight of a structure without additional support - typ­ically an enlarged concrete footing.

Once the hole is in the ground, the foundation can be built. The first step is the footing, usually a base of cement wider than the wall to be constructed on it that will distribute the weight over a larger area to prevent settling.  The walls come next. The walls will be made of concrete poured into a wooden form that is removed after the concrete has set. Setting up the forms for a poured foundation will take several days to set up and remove.

After the concrete forms have been removed, perforated piping (called drain tile) is laid outside the wall at its base in damp climates. These pipes will be pitched to allow the water that enters them to drain off and away from the foundation.  The earthmoving equipment will then return and backfill around the cellar hole. The soil on the surface must be graded so that when there is rain the water will naturally flow away from the building rather than into its foundation. Done by a bull­dozer or other earthmoving machinery, this work is called cutting and filling, as the blade of the ‘dozer serves to cut off the tops of the high spots and fill in the low ones.

Building Structure (12/30/13 - 5/2/14)

All building construction projects include some elements in common – design, financial, estimating and legal considerations. Many projects of varying sizes reach undesirable end results, such as structural collapse, cost overruns, and/or litigation. For this reason, those with experience in the field make detailed plans and maintain careful oversight during the project to ensure a positive outcome. Kraus Anderson is in charge of bringing these details to the Wadena City Council for approval – so there are no surprises at the end.

The foundation becomes the base for the next part of the building, the framework.  Erecting the framework gives the building its size and shape.  The framework includes the floors (and pools!), interior and exterior walls, ceilings and roof.  Also, the locations of doors and windows are set up at this time.  This is the longest phase of the process –90 days!


Exterior Enclosure (5/5/14 –  6/13/14)

After the framework is complete, the structure needs to be enclosed.  The roof and wall surfaces need to be covered.  This process involves enclosing the walls and installing the roof.  When this is completed, the facility is protected from weather and the internal work can begin.


Interior Construction (6/16/14 – 10/3/14)

Normally, the utilities are installed after the building has been enclosed.  This prevents theft and damage from the weather.  The utility system includes four major systems:  electrical, plumbing, climate control and communications.

There is also substantial interior and some remaining exterior finishing work that will be completed during this phase.  The exterior finish work involves siding, any brick work, and trim around window and door frames that remains.

The interior finishing work is more extensive and can include vapor barriers, insulation, drywall and any other trim and finishing work required to complete the building.  This phase also takes a large number of days to complete – 80!  However, this is the work that we will see when we enter the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center, so the amount of time spent on finishing the interior is something that is important as well.

Site Work and Landscaping (5/12/14 – 8/1/14)

While completing the building is the major part of the project, other work also remains to be finished.  The site work must now be finished – earth is moved to fill in areas around the foundation, sidewalks and driveways and parking lots are installed.  The yard area needs to be landscaped and all of this will not only approve the appearance of the Wellness Center, it will help with erosion as well.  This phase does take some time as well – however, there will still be activity happening in the interior as well.


Substantial Completion (10/13/14 – 10/13/14)

Zero days.  Hmm?  What is substantial completion? Substantial Completion refers to a stage of a construction or building project or a designated portion of the project that is sufficiently complete, in accordance with the construction contract documents, so that the owner may use or occupy the building project or designated portion thereof for the intended purpose.  The City of Wadena will may now start occupying the building. Does that mean we can go swimming yet?  No, not yet…but getting closer! Always looking for the details!


Final Cleaning and Systems Commissioning (10/6/14 – 11/14/14)

The City of Wadena now occupies the building.  The final touches can be done internally – whether it beFilling The Pool,” checking air handling systems, checking chemical balances in the four pool areas, moving in office furniture and supplies.

There also needs to be time to do some training of personnel such as life guards! (If you are interested, do your WSI training over the next year!)

Final Completion (11/14/14 – 11/14/14)

Zero days!!!  Alas, we have our answer…if all goes as planned, in 290 days we will be swimming in one of four pools in the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center!  I can hardly wait…how ‘bout you!

So, there you have it!  It is always a good thing to get the details of a project – especially when it involves something for everyone!  It is a very exciting time for the people of Wadena and the surrounding area.  Something I have waited for most of my life to be completed in Wadena - an indoor pool!  It’s happening right now! 

We do still need the final funds to complete this project in its entirety. If you can help Fill The Pool,” please return the direct mail piece sent to all area homes last week with your tax deductible donation.  And, if you can make a pledge over the next four years to donate more, please contact Jeff Browne (218-631-5261) or Mike Craig (218-631-4096) and they can help you get that set up as well.

Wadena is coming back even stronger because we are continuing to work together to make it a better place to live, work and play!