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Waukesha North unveils its new fieldhouse floor

Was delayed due to fire damage earlier this summer

The new Waukesha North fieldhouse floor was unveiled during homecoming festivities at the school Friday afternoon.

The new Waukesha North fieldhouse floor was unveiled during homecoming festivities at the school Friday afternoon. Photo By Todd Ponath

Oct. 8, 2013

It came about two months later than students, staff and parents would have preferred.

But the end result is still exactly what first-year Waukesha North Athletic Director Brian Schlei had envisioned with the new fieldhouse.

"I'm very happy with the progress that was made," Schlei said a day before the shiny wood floor was unveiled to the Waukesha North student body during the school's homecoming pep rally. "It's very impressive."

The Waukesha West community had this same feeling in August when their fieldhouse floor was revealed before the fall sports season.

North's floor was supposed to be ready at the same time, but a fire Aug. 1 inside the fieldhouse broke out as construction was nearly complete.

The Waukesha Fire Department determined the fire was started by the inappropriate storage of oily rags that may have spontaneously combusted during the construction process.

The fire was only in a small northwest portion of the fieldhouse, but smoke damage forced the cleanup to extend into other parts of the fieldhouse and school. In total, crews had to replace 30-feet-by-60-feet of fieldhouse flooring. The cleanup also included painting the ceilings and cleaning air handlers.

The fire also forced North's administrators and its volleyball teams to relocate during the extensive cleanup process.

Many staff members worked out of nearby Butler Middle School until the start of the school year.

Meanwhile, Waukesha West allowed North's boys volleyball teams to practice at its facility. The Northstars' girls volleyball teams practiced at Waukesha South for a few weeks before they moved to the Center Court Sports Complex in Waukesha until last week.

"All the schools that stepped in were great hosts," Schlei said.

Given the circumstances, the volleyball teams also stepped up, he explained.

"They adjusted very well to the challenge and did their best," Schlei said. "We were proud of them as there were not any complaints. They carried on and went about their business."

North's girls' volleyball teams played their first home matches of the season on Monday against Muskego.

The physical education classes stayed mostly outdoors during the first month of school, but Schlei said it wasn't a problem.

"We were very fortunate we had good weather," Schlei said.

The floor's paint job was finished about three weeks ago after Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling completed the cleanup. The contemporary fieldhouse floor features a large purple Northstar logo at center court.

There are two shades of stain on the floor — a darker shade inside each side's three-point arc, and a lighter shade inside the paint and throughout the rest of the floor.

The initial cost estimate for the fire damage was "several hundred thousand dollars," but Superintendent Todd Gray initially said now estimates are closer to $3 million because of the extensive smoke damage not only in the fieldhouse but also in the school.

Gray said Schmidt Custom Floor's insurance company and school district's insurance will combine to cover the expense.

Waukesha West and North built their new wood floors over the previously-used synthetic rubber surfaces.

Replacing the 20-year-old floors was part of the Waukesha School District's capital improvement plan in the coming years. But the project was made a priority after an increase in injuries to students who utilized the floors.

"We're in Year 2 of the plan and one (of the floors) was two years out, the other was three years out," said Waukesha School Board member Joseph Como at a School Board meeting in April. "We're just moving them forward. We're re-prioritizing some of the capital improvement projects."

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