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Leaks latest headache in Hempfield Area project

| Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010

The recently renovated Stanwood Elementary School has a leak that will require 40 feet of new gutters at a cost of more than $7,500, an architect said.

Architect Kevin Renwick of the Foreman Group told Hempfield Area school directors this week that water is penetrating the roof of the new school before it reaches the gutters.

He said the drainage could damage the building. Renwick added that the gutters are causing leaks in other parts of the school that need to be corrected.

The cost didn't sit well with school directors, who Monday will be asked to approve a change order for the installation.

"Why are we responsible?" asked Director Sonya Brajdic.

Director Will Shay called the work "a little pricey."

Director Jeff Weber asked who designed the drainage system.

"We did," Renwick replied.

Director Robert McDonald asked whether the new gutters will provide a "100 percent solution" to the problem. Renwick said the installation will "address the majority" of it.

"It is a safety issue," President John Henry said. "It needs to be done."

Henry said $1,100 in shipping costs is included in the price. "That's kind of crazy, but it's not worth fighting over," he added.

Change orders for the renovation project have been minimal, but the board has clashed with Foreman over other aspects of the work.

• In February, the board objected that it had to pay $8,500 for eight smoke detectors that architects and engineers overlooked in the design phase.

• Directions questioned the $14,000 cost of a sink for a music room. The price later was reduced to $9,000.

• The architect installed a new door frame to a boiler room at a cost of $1,600, then installed five doors at a cost of more than $5,800. The work was completed before change orders were presented to the school board for approval, which upset some directors.

The board is in a dispute with Foreman over whether it should continue as the architect for the upcoming renovation of Wendover Middle School. Several years ago, the board approved plans to renovate both schools at once but scrapped the plan after bids came in higher than expected.

Now that Stanwood is completed, the board will issue bonds early next year to finance the Wendover project. The district borrowed $17 million to renovate Stanwood and in January likely will borrow $26 million for Wendover.

Foreman argues its contract with the district entitles it to remain as architect of record for Wendover.

Henry said the board is considering the option of listening to proposals from other architects for the project, although he praised the work Foreman did at Stanwood.

"We don't want to get into another legal battle," Henry said.

Hempfield had spent about $1 million on the Wendover design before the project was scrapped. If another architect is selected, the question remains whether the district would have to pay for a new design or use the current plans.

Brajdic said switching architects may be costly. "One thing I'm looking at is we already have the plans. My concern is changing plans is something, which I don't think is necessary. Why should we pay another $1 million?" she said.

Shay favors retaining Foreman as architect but said the price of new gutters "isn't going to fly with me."

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