Warren Wellness Center Begins to Take Shape

WARREN – With structural steel beginning to outline the dimensions of the new Student Recreation and Wellness Center at Warren G. Harding High School, the project is attracting more and more attention from the community.

“We get a lot of spectators,” says Rob Wilt, superintendent at DeSalvo Construction of Hubbard, the contractor for the $36 million project.

“Some people even bring their lunch and sit and look at the site while they eat,” Wilt says.

On a cold, overcast day in April, anyone willing to brave the rain and a brief bit of hail would have had plenty to watch as workers from Leetonia Steel began “flying” the roof irons.

A crane lifts a beam during construction of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center in Warren.

The beams are a little more than 90 feet long and 40 inches tall, each weighing 26,000 pounds, says Jon Rydarowicz, manager of Leetonia Steel.

“We brought a bigger crane in today,” he says.

Workers spent about an hour fastening the first beam to the 110-ton crane, which Leetonia Steel rented from Diamond Steel of North Lima, carefully raising the beam a little at a time to ensure it was balanced before raising it.

On this day the crew placed seven of the beams. In all, Rydarowicz says some 850 tons of steel will go into the project.

“We’ll be erecting for probably another five weeks. Detail work, including welding after we get it level, get all the bolts up to spec, we’ll probably be here until June,” he says.

All the steel for the new center is sourced and fabricated in the United States from Amthor Steel in Erie, Pa., specifically for the project, he says, adding that everything was ordered in November so there haven’t been any issues getting materials in a timely manner.

“It’s going smoothly. Usually, you have to torch and burn and cut some things together, but this is going together pretty good,” Rydarowicz says. “It’s going to be a beautiful building.”

The main section of the 136,000-square-foot building will be a large, open space with a 200-meter running track on the ground floor and a walking track above. New locker rooms, a student-run bistro, a robotics area and two health care providers will also be housed at the center.

Also taking a moment to watch the beams go up on this day was Dave Grayson, whose company, Miller and Yount Paving Inc. of Youngstown, is doing all the site work and excavating.

“We’re the first ones on the site and the last ones to leave,” he says.

The first step, says Grayson, was to clear the existing parking lot and grass so they could cut the site down to sub-grade and put in an underground retention system for stormwater.

So far, they’ve poured more than 35,000 tons of gravel.

“When the time comes, we’ll pour the floor and we’re basically the guy to spread the topsoil and put the finish coat on the blacktop and plant the grass seed.”

In all, about 30 workers were on-site preparing different sections of the building.

Maderitz Concrete Inc. of Girard was busy pouring stem wall, while on the north side of the site Lencyk Masonry Inc. of Youngstown was erecting 6-inch block walls for the locker rooms. Also working in the locker rooms were tradesmen from Komar Plumbing Co. of Youngstown.

Wilt says they’re about three weeks away from starting to pour the concrete for the second floor of the building.

“Foundation has to go in first, then the structural steel. Then we’ll get into pouring the concrete and doing the metal studs for outside walls,” he says.

The first phase of the project will be complete by August 2024, but Wilt is shooting for June 28, 2024.

“Our goal is to be done sometime in July so they can have the locker room for football season this year,” he says. “Lead times on a lot of equipment are way out, but this is a long project so it shouldn’t hold us up.”

While there is plenty to keep spectators occupied for now, Wilt says he’s excited to see the reactions of students, faculty and residents when they get their first look at the center this fall.

“It’s really fun when the people from the school come out and they’re beyond excited,” he says.

“Every word out of their mouth is how excited they are for this project.”

Pictured at top: Jon Rydarowicz, left, and Rob Wilt.