Six months after reopening following a two-year renovation project, Strough Middle School’s 801 Laurel St. building still has some project portions awaiting completion by contractors.
Among various “punch-list” items still to be finished, as reviewed last week by the Board of Education’s buildings and grounds committee, are a few shop-class doors that need to be better secured plus some electrical-related work in the auditorium.
While progress has been made in reducing a “fairly lengthy list” of items last fall and the building is functional, “I think it’s unusual” regarding the time needed to close out the punch list and wrap up cost reports, said buildings and grounds committee chair Paul Hagerty.
“It’s getting there,” Hagerty, who also is the board clerk, said Wednesday of the remaining work. He noted that a report on the Strough building’s status during last week’s committee meeting was “in general...quite positive.”
He added “obviously, the school’s been open for six months....It’s been functioning.”
For example, Hagerty said he is not aware of the auditorium’s usage being limited due to the remaining work needed. It has been used for some musical performances and meetings, he added.
Hagerty commented “in my opinion...most of the punch-list stuff is of a cosmetic nature” in terms of the remaining items. But he also observed it “has to come to some resolution....This can’t go on forever.” The process is to be completed by the end of the school year in June.
“It seems to be moving along,” Hagerty said of the work, adding “a lot of it is relatively minor.” Punch-list items can range from relatively small steps such as correcting “a scratch here” or repainting an area, to some “major items,” he commented; some of the items that have been cleared up at Strough included reworking several doors such as for issues with mounting or hardware, and completing railing near an exterior stair entrance to the school’s gymnasium.
The building was vacated in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years for a massive $25.4 million renovation that temporarily relocated Strough’s seventh- and eighth-graders to other sites. The project was approved by school district voters in a public bonding referendum.
Closing out final items for a project “can be difficult...especially if there’s a lot of changes” that were encountered during the work, Hagerty observed. While the Rome district’s elementary schools have undergone major renovations in recent years that temporarily closed those sites and relocated students, the Strough project was of a substantially larger scope and size.
State financial aid for such school building projects normally starts flowing “after everything’s all done” including final pricing reports, Hagerty remarked. But for the Strough project, the state has agreed to start furnishing some aid, he added.
The various project contractors have received a lot of the payment for their work, but certain amounts have been held back due to some items not being finished, said Hagerty.
The school district has been paying contractors through a bond anticipation note, while the regular bonding is to take effect in June, he explained. State financial aid ultimately reimburses school districts for most of the costs for such projects.
A separate factor in closing out the project is a pending complaint that was filed in court against the school district by Cornerstore Restoration Corp. of Yonkers, seeking $421,525 for masonry construction work that the company said it performed. The company said that amount reflects the balance owed on an overall $454,850 contract after a $33,325 payment.
The school district has disputed and denied the complaint.