Tisbury town leaders and those involved in building the town’s new $7.4 million emergency services building are in the process of vetting a new construction supervisor, after the former one was sacked over the trouble-plagued project.
The former construction supervisor was terminated at the town’s request, in response to a long list of faults in the building, which have delayed the project. An interim supervisor is in place, but has yet to be approved to take over permanently.
At their regular meeting Tuesday, Tisbury selectmen were harshly critical of the general contractor for the project, Seaver Constructions, over delays and poor workmanship.
They also approved hiring a consultant to provide an independent assessment of the building envelope. A year after construction began, the structure still is not weather tight and there are concerns that leaks have caused damage to building materials inside the structure.
The list of flaws in the building now runs to some 70 items. Among them is a main front door which doesn’t fit, metal support beams which filled with water, which then froze and buckled them, defects in the building’s siding and persistent moisture problems.
The first big problem was detected late last year: The poured concrete floor in the main equipment bay was supposed to have a slope to ensure water drained away, but the job was botched. Instead of draining, water pooled, posing a hazard to emergency service workers. Eventually it was decided the best fix was to grind down the floor to something close to the correct grade, and have a nonslip epoxy surface applied.
The selectmen’s frustration with the problems and the company’s slowness in responding to town concerns boiled over in Tuesday’s meeting, which was attended by Seaver’s vice president of operations, Ken DellaCroce.
“Why have you guys been late to every party we’ve had,” demanded selectman Jeff Kristal.
He said the selectmen had waited up to two months for responses from Seaver to their concerns.
“You guys are not responding to us,” said Mr. Kristal. “Let this be a shot across the bow that we’re not going to tolerate this any more. You guys need to get on the ball. We’ve spent a lot of money on this and we don’t want a second-grade project. We certainly don’t want a second-grade project manager up there running the project, okay?”
Selectman Tristan Israel joined in, itemizing some of the problems and suggesting the selectmen were getting “a lot of heat” over the situation. The town should not have to wait weeks or months for Seaver to respond to concerns the board expressed, Mr. Israel said. The third member of the board, new chairman Geoghan Coogan joined the chorus, saying even driving by the building site revealed “a mess.” It looked “unkempt, unsafe and unprofessional,” he said. “Not only do we want the project moving, it needs to look different.”
Mr. DellaCroce admitted there were problems that should have been addressed and had not been. That was why the former project manager had been removed, he said.
The company was still trying to find solutions to “prevent the rain from coming in” after previous attempts at a fix had failed. “We’re going to finish it right,” Mr. DellaCroce said.
Later, town administrator John Bugbee said it appeared the selectmen’s display of frustration had an effect.
“What you heard [from the board on Tuesday] was a venting of some of the frustrations publicly that have been brewing for some time,” Mr. Bugbee said. “Seaver is now acutely aware of the town’s concerns, and has pledged to begin correcting them, so we have some amount of faith that the message having been sent, things are beginning to turn around,” he said.
The immediate focus was on confirming a new construction supervisor.
“We wrote to them on April 8 asking that he be replaced,” Mr. Bugbee said. “The company did remove the superintendent from the contract and he was replaced with an interim superintendent. The building committee, the architect, the project manager are all now looking at this person’s credentials to decide whether he has sufficient credentials to take over permanently.” He said he hoped to make a recommendation to the selectmen in a week or two.
Still, Mr. Bugbee considered it highly unlikely the project would be completed on time.
“The original completion date was to have been June 6, plus 42 days to accommodate change orders made by the town. So that made it July 25. Can they get the project done in that time? I think it would be a tall order . . . given the progress we’ve made so far,” he said.
Much depends on the assessment of the building envelope.
“We’ve got issues with moisture in the building which will have to be fixed before the sheetrock goes in. We need to ensure the building is weather tight. There are issues with the siding and getting a subcontractor to deal with those. Apparently the subcontractor hired to deal with those has decided to leave and we’re now left with no one to deal with the siding. They’re in the process of finding someone else,” Mr. Bugbee said. He concluded:
“There are the buckled beams. They are not the major beams but they are important to the structural integrity of the building and they will have to be fixed. There’s a lot of other things that could grow into big things. But it’s important to note that although there are issues and we do need to work through them, we are still working cooperatively with Seaver.
“The town does not want to have an adversarial relationship with the contractor.”