EAST LIVERPOOL - After considerable debate and a closed-door session with its attorney for "imminent litigation," the city school board voted Thursday night to resume work on the Patterson Field improvement project.
All work had been stopped at the board's July 30 meeting after a lengthy executive session called for personnel but which President Janice Martin indicated included discussion on the project.
At that time, Superintendent James Herring said the board did not have finished plans. The board failed to act that night on an agenda recommendation to approve updated plans.
Last night's decision to resume work was made without comment, as were other motions to have architect Scott Shepherd take all remaining plans to Columbus for state approval; authorizing Shepherd to prepare change orders for the board's review by Aug. 9; and authorizing Herring to contact "qualified individuals" to serve as an "owner's representative" on the project, which he and Treasurer Todd Puster described after the meeting as an overseer.
Board member Richard Wolf has advocated since the project's inception that a construction manager should be hired, although Shepherd has indicated he is performing much of that type of work as part of his contract.
No comment was made about any of the motions, and no mention of litigation was made after the closed-door session with the board attorney.
The decisions came after a detailed report by Shepherd on how the board approved an $833,000 contract for two new locker rooms and a public restroom which members recently learned does not include mechanicals, electrical or plumbing (MEP) components.
An estimate provided at the meeting by general contractor Tice Builders showed the additional costs for MEP at $346,000 with other additions bringing the total for the project to $1.5 million.
This includes a second floor on the home locker room at a cost of $240,000.
Telling the board he knows there is a lot of concern about the increased cost, Shepherd said, "I'm concerned as well."
He went step-by-step through the project process since Feb. 29 when the design contract began, through bidding in May, project administration that he said included a daily log of action taken and weekly coordination meetings, issues that have arisen that caused seven significant changes in nine weeks, permit acquisition and, finally, to the work that is completed to date, which includes a floating slab for the home locker room and foundation, rough in plumbing, wire mesh/stone/insulation/vapor barrier and a sanitary line for the second building which will serve as the visitor locker room and restroom.
Each segment indicated who directed that aspect of the project, either the owner (district/board), architect, utility companies or due to state-required revisions.
"We have not proceeded without authorization of the board," Shepherd advised, which was echoed by his firm's Director Pennie Zehnder, who also provided minutes of the weekly progress meetings held between the architect, contractor, Herring, Puster and district buildings superintendent Mark Reed.
After the meeting, Zehnder said, "After the bid was approved, we never really met with the board on the project. We have been meeting with Jim, Todd and Mark every Wednesday."
Contractor Mike Tice was asked by board member Scott Dieringer if he knew the MEP component was not included when he was awarded the contract bid, and Tice said, "Yes. I thought it was made clear to everyone in the bid review."
Zehnder said the bid review took place May 24 with Herring, Puster, Reed, Shepherd and Tice and it was clearly stated the MEP was not included.
Herring and Puster said if that was said, they did not understand it.
When asked by Martin whether he was aware the MEP was to be a separate bid, Reed said he "wasn't sure the MEP was excluded," and thought there were footage prices in the $883,000 bid but that plans were just not finished.
Board member Scott Dieringer said none of them would have voted for a contract for that amount for just shells of buildings.
Wolf asked Shepherd, "Who were you advised was our point man?" and was told the superintendent and treasurer, prompting Wolf to comment, "We created this problem. No one (employee) is qualified to make those decisions."
Shepherd reminded the board, "You were involved in the process of developing that bid packet" and said the bid packet was distributed to the board the same time it went to the contractor.