By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe pushed and pushed for a date to have the new baseball fields at St. Mary’s on Washington Street be turned over to the city and ready to be played on.
July 31 was the date he was given after the project manager and the city solicitor gave an update on the fields at Monday night’s City Council meeting.
Many had expected the fields to be open and ready to play on this spring, but due to flooding and an issue with the soil the project appeared to be off.
The contractor, Argus Construction, and the city’s project manager Don Ciaramella came before the council in May to discuss the status of the field. The council then voted to have legal counsel look at the “liquidated damages provision” in the contract. If there were damages found the contractor would be charged $1,000 a day for a $2.6 million job.
City Solicitor Paul Capizzi told the council that he found nothing wrong with the contract or the work, and even said the project was on schedule. He added that the change orders were no fault of the contractor. One change order had to do with the proper soil to be used and the materials and manpower for laying bric-brac in a creek that floods badly.
The project is for two softball and one-baseball fields as well as a concession/restroom building and parking lot.
“Even with the change orders and the weather they continue to be ahead of schedule,” Capizzi said. There was a change order for replacing a water line and the creek work.
Ward 6 Councillor Charles Patch begged to differ stating that there is “some blames on the contractor” when field one was ready to be sodded and yet Dec. 26, 2015 crews were off the site.
“This contractor needed a push and didn’t get one until people said something,” Patch said, adding that there was no blame on Ciaramella because he was out with knee surgery. “I wish there had been more oversight on the contractors doing the work.”
Technically, work on the site is to end on September 16.
In a report, Capizzi said the contractor started work on July 20, 2015 even though the contract had a start date of Aug. 27, 2015.
“I am sympathetic to the frustration with the delay,” Capizzi said. “But you’ve got three ball fields that look fantastic.”
What isn’t there yet is a field house with bathrooms and a concession area. So far the job has been out to bid and no one has taken it. Ciaramella said he has had problems getting National Grid to come in and do electrical work. Councillor Steven Morabito said the council meets monthly with National Grid and could say something.
“No where in the contract does it say to turn over the field so kids can play on a construction site,” Ciaramella said.
But Keefe and Morabito said the contract states the field is to be fully operational when the keys are turned over.