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Uniplex link construction moving along

On the surface, things haven't changed a whole lot, but some major changes have been made underfoot.
The new elevator shaft will allow access to all floors of the Uniplex, including the upper level of the arena (the door on the right) and the second floor of the curling rink (upper left).

On the surface, things haven't changed a whole lot, but some major changes have been made underfoot.
Construction and renovation of the area linking the Humboldt Uniplex building and the new Humboldt Collegiate Institute (HCI) has been moving along over the past few months.
Behind the construction walls that block off parts of the curling rink, arena and aquatic centre lobbies, things don't look a lot different now than they did in October. However, some major strides forward have been taken, and a major piece of this renovation and new building project is now being installed.
Standing behind the construction walls, Darrell Lessmeister, director of Leisure Services for the City of Humboldt, explained that the plumbing and underground services for the new central lobby for all the city facilities in the Uniplex have been installed.
Also, he pointed out a large hole that's been made in one corner of the space - an elevator shaft.
Looking down, the shaft extends from what was once the ladies change room in the basement of the curling rink, and looking up, it reaches into what was once the beer kiosk on the upper floor of the Elgar Petersen Arena, and to the curling rink's lounge.
The elevator's bottom floor will be the basement of the curling rink, explained Lessmeister. It will then make stops at the lower level of the arena, the main level of the arena and curling rink, the upper level of the arena and, finally, the curling rink lounge, which is on the second floor of that facility.
Work on this elevator structure had to begin early in the project, Lessmeister explained, as the structure is so large, it needed to go in before parts of the building start to be closed up.
"The elevator is the biggest thing," he said, adding that it will be completed in the next while.
In other parts of the building, where new offices for employees are located, and a new fitness centre for the community will be installed, new floors have been poured, the roof has been put on and the services underground have been put in.
Crews are also working on wiring the space and on changes the building's sprinkler system. Some interior walls are also going up.
It was hoped that the entire project, both the link and the school, would be closed in by the end of this week, with all doors, windows, walls and roofs in place.
Once the building is enclosed, weather will no longer be able to restrict the project, Lessmeister noted.
"It's been a big challenge - the weather," he said.
Though the city's portion of this project - the renovation of the lobbies and the construction of a new part of the building to link it to the high school - has been closed off for a while, work in this area has still been affected by the weather.
It's one contractor for the entire project - both the school area and the link, Lessmeister explained. So until the whole building is closed off, weather plays a part in what is happening in all parts of the building.
"Any delay for the school affects us as well," Lessmesiter said.
Right now, it looks as though the entire project will be completed some time in the late fall of this year.
At the beginning of the next winter sports season, Lessmeister is hopeful that some parts of the arena lobby will be open to the public.
All of the delays so far have been due to weather, Lessmeister said. The wet and cold summer held things up as the site was swamped and the crews have been unable to catch up since freeze-up.
"Other than (the weather) there's been nothing major (causing delays)," he stated.
Quorex Construction, the general contractor, has been doing an excellent job, he added.
There have been some challenges for the city in operating a facility during construction at the site, he added, but for the most part, things have been working well.
Some adjustments had to be made due to the temporary loss of the main concession and parts of the curling rink to the construction zone, but those have been worked through.
"We've had some challenges, but I don't think operations have been hindered," he said.
Luckily, the busiest times at the Uniplex are usually after construction has wrapped up for the day, so crews don't have to try and work around big crowds of people and their vehicles.
"There has been a bit of separation, which has worked," Lessmeister said, not only for people getting to the Uniplex, but for crews trying to move materials on and off site.
With the site so wet this year, getting materials on and off of it was challenging in itself - it was good crews did not have to work around large crowds at the same time.
The curling rink has been the facility most affected by the construction, mostly due to the installation of the elevator, but the short term pain will mean a long term gain, Lessmeister feels.
"Long term, they will have an elevator they've never had before," he said, adding that not only can the elevator be used to bring people up to the second floor, it can also haul their product up to the lounge.
"It's a bit of pain and inconvenience but, at the end of the day, it will be better for all groups in the facility," he said. And the public as well, he added.
"We haven't heard a lot of complaints," Lessmeister said of the construction around the facility. "A lot of people understand the long term gain we're going to incur. In the end, we'll have a facility that will be the envy of a lot of places."
The city's part of this building project is expected to cost just under $3 million. It will include a new lobby area, better links between the facilities, main floor washrooms, the installation of an elevator, more office space for city employees, and a gym area they hope will be furnished through a private-public partnership.