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Construction ahead of schedule at St. Mary's

Krystle Wagner • Jul 7, 2016 at 2:00 PM

SPRING LAKE — Dry summer days have helped push a construction project slightly ahead of schedule at St. Mary’s Catholic School.

Within the next few weeks, construction crews are expected to finish laying bricks for the nearly 23,000-square-foot, two-story education center. The roof is expected to be placed by the end of July, and then indoor work — such as plumbing, electrical and drywall — will take place, said Father Dave Gross of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

“It’s been near-perfect weather for the work that they’re doing,” Gross said.

The building will house St. Mary’s School and faith-formation classes. Construction is slated to wrap up in late October or early November. 

Depending on the amount of new equipment that needs to be purchased and old items that will be moved, staff and students could be moved into the building by Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, Gross said.

Recently, the church regained and added some parking spaces following the completion of the parking lot reconstruction.

Although the project officially broke ground in March, planning for it began back in 2002 when the church completed its new gathering space, gym and kitchen.

The Mary, Seat of Wisdom Campaign was launched in 2012 to raise funds for the project, which is slated to cost about $5.8 million. So far, about $2.95 million has been pledged and more than $2.5 million has been collected. Gross said they are preparing to launch a new campaign for long-term pledges to pay off the work.

Within the next few weeks, Gross said they will also kick off a brick campaign. Families will have the opportunity to buy bricks that will pave the way from the Savidge Street walkway to the school’s main doors. The priest said they are working on the details of cost and engraving. More information will be available in the coming weeks, he said.

Money raised through the brick campaign will purchase furnishings for the new building.

In January, crews demolished the former residence for St. Mary’s priests, which stood at 432 E. Exchange St.

The new education center is attached to the southeast side of the church. The building will house preschool through eighth-grade classes, staff work space, and rooms for art and science classes.

The existing middle school wing of St. Mary’s School will be demolished to make room for “green space” and parking. The remainder of the school will be remodeled for storage and the parish’s food pantry.

St. Mary’s Principal Steve VanHammen said the new building will provide staff and students with up-to-date infrastructure and technology, which will help teaching and learning.

“The other benefit is that we’ll all be under the same roof, preschool through eighth grade, for the first time ever,” he said.

It’s estimated that 600-700 people will use the new space on a regular basis. The school’s enrollment is expected to run between 250 and 300 students.

Gross said he’s enjoyed seeing the excitement of parishioners and students, and the appreciation they have for the new building and support to make it come to fruition.

To donate to the campaign, call the parish office at 616-842-1702 or visit the campaign’s website at www.stmarysl.org/msow.htm.

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