Tisbury selectmen have given the latest site superintendent of the town’s new emergency service building two weeks to show he can rescue the trouble-plagued project or follow his two predecessors out the door.
The board’s decision, taken reluctantly on Tuesday night, was taken despite advice from the town’s project supervisor, recommended against the appointment of Dennis Mason as the permanent site superintendant.
It was motivated by concern that yet another change in personnel could see the construction — which already is expected to run almost six months beyond its original completion date of early June — delayed months more.
The town and the lead contractor, Seaver Construction, currently are negotiating fixes for a raft of deficiencies in the work on the building, ranging from misplaced foundations, to uneven slab floors to deformed structural steel and defects in air and water seals.
An assessment of the new man’s work from town project manager David C. Lager, submitted on June 14, was not encouraging. While Mr. Lager said Mr. Mason was “clearly an improvement” over the superintendent he replaced about six weeks ago, there had been problems.
“Dennis . . . has a greater understanding of how a building should go together. He also has administrative and project management skills that were missing with the previous SC superintendent and project manager,” the assessment says.
“On the other hand, in the last few weeks, it is clear that he does not have a good understanding of public construction work, particularly where a project is in trouble, such as the Tisbury [emergency services facility].”
The project’s difficulties made it particularly important that there be constant interaction with the architects and subcontractors, which had not been apparent, the report says.
“There has also been one instance where Dennis has authorized work to proceed without thoroughly reviewing plans and specifications and requesting revisions from the design team,” the report says.
“As you know we are at a critical juncture in the project. We need to have a superintendent who will respect the plans and specs 100 per cent, and if there is a need for deviation, requests to the architect must be made before proceeding with deviations.
“I do not see that closeness between the super and the subs that is required to get all the subcontractor personnel working together to give the town of Tisbury a top-quality facility.”
It concluded: “For these reasons I cannot recommend Dennis Mason as the permanent replacement construction superintendent.”
Town building committee chairman Joe Tierney said there had been some improvement in the two weeks since the report was written and since he had made his concerns known to the principal of the company, Scott Seaver.
“I think Scott Seaver is concerned. If we do not accept this guy . . . he’s running out of options,” he said.
Mr. Tierney advised waiting another two to four weeks to see how things went.
Board chairman Geoghan Coogan expressed concern about this course of action.
If the town waits another four weeks, then decides it needs another superintendent, then waits another month for one to be found, then waits for him to get “up to speed” on the project, then “how many more months are we behind on this thing?” he asked.
Tisbury town administrator John Bugbee said the critical review, the displeasure expressed by the building committee, the architects and the selectmen gave the new man “motivation to lift his game.”
And in the end the board acted in the hope that would happen.
In other business, the selectmen deferred again a request to contribute money for a new study of the Island’s affordable housing needs.
A newly formed group called the Joint Affordable Housing Committee is seeking contributions from all Vineyard towns toward the estimated $30,000 cost of a consultant’s report on the problem. Each town is being asked to approve up to $4,000, although the actual cost is expected to be around $2,700.
There was some concern about a recent decision by West Tisbury limiting access for dogs on Lambert’s Cove Beach.
Selectman Tristan Israel expressed disappointment at the decision, saying it meant more dogs on Tisbury beaches, particularly Owen Park.
Mr. Bugbee confirmed there had been an “uptick” in dog numbers there, including a number whose owners were West Tisbury residents.
Mr. Israel pronounced himself “very disappointed” with the decision of the West Tisbury selectmen.
“It’s a decision that’s been made in a vacuum, that’s impacting another town,” he said.