FHS Project Back To Arbitration
By: Christopher Kazarian
A little over a year after the town first entered into mediation with the general contractor for the $86 million Falmouth High School renovation, it may have to do so again over cost disputes.
Yesterday, at his board’s monthly meeting, Falmouth High School Building Committee member John K. Scanlan said those disputes pertain to two pieces of work TLT Construction Corporation of Wakefield has completed on the project—fireproofing and repairs to the original floor in the Robert V. Antonucci Field House.
TLT, he said, believes it is entitled to at least $150,000 for this work, although the building committee is disputing this amount.
With the field house floor, he said, “they [TLT] felt it was not in good shape, but [we felt] that they should carry some money for floor preparations. That is the industry standard.”
In terms of fireproofing, he said, the town is arguing that what was known about and done in House A should apply to the work TLT completed in the renovation of House B and House C.
With both disputes, he said, it comes down to what level of work TLT should reasonably be responsible for completing under its contract.
Mr. Scanlan anticipated that mediation would begin within 60 to 90 days and most likely the two sides would use the same mediator, James V. Ryan, a retired judge and attorney for JAMS/Endispute in Boston, who oversaw the first negotiations.
This would make sense, he said, since Mr. Ryan is familiar with the project and many of the same issues that are being contested now.
Last October work on the project came to a halt as the town and TLT worked toward a contract for the remainder of the renovation at an agreed-upon price and schedule. Mr. Ryan oversaw that mediation, which concluded this past February.
This latest disagreement will not jeopardize the work currently being done on the project, Mr. Scanlan said.
The dispute has also not hampered the project over the past month. Gary A. Ainslie of DiNisco Design Partnership in Boston highlighted this, noting that significant progress has been made in October. He encouraged the committee to see the site for themselves.
Overall, he said, the efforts being made to meet deadlines have been encouraging.
Window installation is complete on the east elevation and the north end addition of the second floor, he said, as crews work to enclose the building before winter sets in.
Inside the high school, he said, drywall installation has started and mechanical trades are beginning their work.
Yet, there was concern over a rising number of change orders, after three were approved yesterday for a little over $100,000 and a dwindling contingency line item after the town agreed to not appeal the verdict in the town’s lawsuit with the former architect, ARCADD of West Newton.
In September the jury decided in that case, which was tried in Barnstable Superior Court, to award $2.1 million to ARCADD, saying the town breached its contract with the firm when it was let go in June 2006.
In order to pay for that verdict the building committee tapped into roughly $720,000 from the contingency line item among other areas of the project budget.
Kevin E. Murphy, the selectmen’s representative to the committee, as well as Falmouth Finance Committee member Gardner L. Lewis asked the high school building committee to be cognizant of its finances.
“It appears that a lot of change orders are starting to crop up again,” Mr. Murphy said. “I wonder whether we can continue to take these change orders. I want to make sure we are measuring twice and cutting once.”
Since the town decided not to appeal the jruy’s decision, Mr. Murphy stressed to the building committee there will be no more funds available should anything unexpected crop up. “The well is dry after this,” he said. Mr. Lewis expressed similar concerns, noting that since mediation with TLT was finished there have been nearly $500,000 worth of change orders approved.
Some of those, he said, appears to be for work that does not look like it should be unexpected.
Despite these concerns, Mr. Scanlan said, much of the work for the remainder of the project should be straightforward, since crews are done with demolition and will not be uncovering any hidden surprises.
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