School Building Committee holds first formal meeting in six months, but lacks quorum

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Union - posted Fri., Mar. 18, 2011
Members of the SBC discuss the new Union School punch list. Photo by Lauri Voter.
Members of the SBC discuss the new Union School punch list. Photo by Lauri Voter.

For the first time in six months, members of the town of Union’s School Building Committee assembled for a formal, special meeting on March 10.

The SBC has come under scrutiny recently as the first selectman and other town officials try to define responsibilities for the care and maintenance of the new Union School- which opened in August of 2010 - and to determine with whom those responsibilities should lie.

First Selectman Albert L. “Andy” Goodhall, Jr. feels that the SBC should be disbanded, and has tried to pass both a resolution and a motion to that end. His arguments have been based on the failure of the SBC to hold a formal meeting in six months, and the need to close out the building project and press on with other issues surrounding the school. However, during a March 7 Board of Selectmen meeting, Goodhall’s resolution was struck down and his motion was never seconded.

The new school is under a warranty that is set to expire in a few months, in spite of the fact there are some outstanding facilities issues that need to be addressed. In addition to warranty items, Goodhall said he would like to see certain punch list items - which are building details or finish work that need to be addressed or fixed by contractors before the project is considered complete – finalized soon, so that the town can move on with the project. Primarily, the town of Union is faced with establishing a second well for the new school, and remediating the pesticide chlordane from the soil where the old school stood before it was torn down. Goodhall feels that the project is stalled because it has succumbed to different committees and different bosses.

At the March 7 BOS meeting, selectman and SBC member Joseph L. Kratochvil said that the SBC has held meetings, although they were not formal meetings.

“It was agreed upon that the building committee members would meet with the selectmen. When you come right down to it, they probably aren’t official meetings because they weren’t posted as such, but they did meet,” explained Kratochvil. “In the meantime, work is being done on the punch list. A lot of the punch list items were completed by the end of December. There are two or three items… that are still going to have to be done, and some warranty work to be completed, too. We have to find when the contractor and sub-contractors are going to be able to do this work.”

Some of the topics addressed during the March 10 SBC meeting included outstanding punch list items, which committee members say are nearly complete. Resolution of those outstanding items is dependent on contractors being able to access the school when it is not in session.

Erratic lighting due to circuits and wiring (and lack of light switches), structural truss hangers, security cabinet latches, grading and landscape were all discussed, and most of those remain pending. The SBC also agreed that it needs to turn the SBC laptop, which contains all data on the building project, over to the town.

Currently, the HVAC system is a concern because snow is being drawn into the vents, causing leaks that are affecting the walls. SBC Chair Ron Rickey describes the problem as a “design discrepancy.” The SBC is trying to resolve the discrepancy with the architect, the contractor and the sub-contractor. In addition, some of the school’s sidewalk areas are affected by frost heaves and/or water runoff from the roof. Members of the committee seemed to agree that the sidewalks should fall under warranty.

Some concerns involve payment of monies owed between the contractor and sub-contractor, and/or contingency monies. The SBC indicates that because the town took a loan from the USDA for the school project, the town in turn was not able to withhold significant contingency money, due to USDA parameters. Some members of the committee feel that this may have “tied their hands” and undermined some of their self-determination in regards to the project.

Although the SBC held the special meeting, it lacked a quorum, so no motions or votes could occur.


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