School Construction Project Update Discussed at the BOE Meeting

Credits: Bobbie Peer

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The good news is that the construction project is well under budget, the not so good news is that some work will not be completed by the start of the school year, as advised by Business Administrator James Testa at the July 27 Board of Education (BOE) meeting. The bulk of the construction is going on at the High School building. Smaller projects are taking place at the elementary schools.

As so often with construction projects, unforeseen issues may arise causing additional work to be done. The board approved several change orders to the existing project plans. Testa expects a few more change orders to be presented to the board. However, all additional work will be within the budget.

Testa explained that the roof replacement project is on schedule and will be completed prior to the start of the school year and advised that he has had frequent meetings with the project vendors. However, concerns remain about the project in the high school. “We didn’t see the progress we wanted to see,” he said. The district had requested that the owner of Mark Construction, Inc., - a vendor which needs “to amp up” its effort - be present at one of the site meetings. The owner did attend a meeting, and “after today’s meeting we felt more comfortable,” Testa explained.

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The vendors will be working on Saturdays and Sundays, and if necessary in double shifts. Due to “a material issue” the security vestibule construction will be delayed slightly. The replacement doors will be completed after the start of the school year; however, the work will be scheduled to start after the students end their classes.

The completion of the STEM-wing will be the number one priority during the ongoing construction. The gym upgrade remains also a priority, Testa explained.

The board also discussed the improvements to the entrance point at Lieder Field. The estimate for the new chain link fence is $15,000, Superintendent David Miceli said. However, an alternative architectural design would provide “a beautiful entrance way.” Miceli noted that the cost of the new design is high at $150,000 and that the board may not be comfortable entertaining such an expensive project.

Board member William Dibble said that he liked the drawings but would like to see what can be done with approximately $40,000. Ira Krauss said $150,000 is “too much money.” He suggested that the district complete the current construction project first before deciding on the field entrance. Other board members agreed that a price range of $30,000-$50,000 would be more appropriate. The best time to upgrade the entrance way might be after the fall sport season is over and before the ground freezes, Miceli said.

Council President Adam Smith also told the board that the New Providence Community Pool has asked if the board would be willing to donate funds for the upgrade of the footbridge leading to the pool parking lot. High school students use the pool parking lot during the school year. Smith noted that in the past the board provided funds for the tennis court improvement project. He said that the board could donate a small amount of funds as “a good neighbor.”

The footbridge will be partially paid for by the borough and some board members suggested that the district officials discuss the details of the project with borough officials prior to dolling out funds.

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