Architect addresses board questions about performance

Published Sep 13, 2017 at 4:00pm

A principal in the March Associates architectural firm long used by the Rome school district is asking whether the Board of Education should seek a different architect, based on some board members’ questions about performance.

“I question whether you want to continue...relationship with March Associates,” Chris Crolius, a principal in the company, told the board’s buildings and grounds committee Monday.

Referring to “some questions...our ability to perform,” Crolius said “if you don’t have confidence in us moving probably look for another architect.”

Crolius raised the topic during the committee’s discussion of preliminary plans for a public bonding referendum for repairs at Rome Free Academy and Staley Elementary School; no referendum voting date or project details have been confirmed yet.

Crolius cited the “significant investment” involved for such a referendum, and the work required to organize its scope including the involvement needed by his company.

Noting there have been “people questioning our abilities,” Crolius said “if you’e unhappy with us” it should be considered along with the referendum discussion.

He observed, “it’s business....I understand....I just wanted to put it out there.”

Board Vice President Paul Hagerty, who chairs the committee, said it was a “topic for executive session,” rather than public discussion.

Board member Lawrence Posselt told Crolius that his being “up front” was appreciated.

Crolius said he had “received emails.” Asked about it after the meeting, he said he had seen the issues raised by board members after being copied by district administrators during email dialogues.

Board President Paul Fitzpatrick said after the meeting that while individual members may have expressed concern about March Associates, it was not an overall board position.

As part of its longtime involvement with the Rome district, March Associates has been the architect for a series of renovation projects for Rome schools over the past 10 years.

The company also is involved in projects at various other school districts in the state as part of its work.

Recently, some Rome school board members took issue with cost differences stemming from two wrong-sized boilers being installed during a Joy Elementary School renovation.

In addition, some members have raised questions about the pace of a current renovation of Strough Middle School’s Laurel Street building.