Starting last summer, toilets in the first floor bathrooms nearest to the main entrance at have experienced backups, requiring the sewer pipe be cleared. According to building officials, work to repair that problem will take place over April break. Issues with the softball field behind the new building are not so quickly resolved, they said. That field will not be ready for play until spring 2013.
According to the EG School Department’s facilities director Bob Wilmarth, the cost of repairing the sewer pipe will be borne by the contractor, Gilbane.
“It looks like during the installation, one of the plumbing pipes on the first floor may have been pushed out of position,” he said earlier this week. “Even if it moves a tiny bit, that could be a big deal.”
In this case, Wilmarth said, “once a month it would back up and we’d have to have the line cleared. It happened enough times for us to take notice.”
He said a “belly” in a pipe creates a “negative slope,” or a dip, which affects the pipe’s flow. The location of the problem was found by using a camera in the pipe. A section of the floor between the bathroom and the kitchen will have to be dug up and the pipe repaired. According to Wilmarth and SBS’s Ken Romeo, they know exactly where the problem is, so only a several-foot portion of the floor will have to be disturbed.
“It’s a $30 million project. They have a small plumbing problem they have to repair,” said Wilmarth. “It’s no big deal.” And, he emphasized, “it’s not coming out of our pocket.”
“It’s a small repair,” agreed Strategic Building Solutions’ Romeo. SBS was hired to oversee , as well as other school building projects paid for by.
The issues with the softball field appear to be more complicated.
The first issue is the infield’s composition. The plan had been to replace the existing softball field, which had a grass infield. The replaced Cole field, then, was built with a grass infield. However, newer softball fields, including the two at , feature dirt infields. After some complaints by softball enthusiasts, it was decided to replace the grass for dirt in the infield.
“The contract called for the infield to be replaced the way it was,” said Romeo. Consequently, converting it to a dirt infield is a “change order,” something the client decides to do differently after the project has begun. The client, i.e. the East Greenwich School District, bears that cost.
But there is another issue with the field — it has drainage problems, most significantly on the third base line. Investigation into the drainage problems is ongoing, according to SBS’s Jon Winikur.
“SMMA has identified several issues,” he said, referring to the architecture firm that designed the new middle school and the field. “We don’t have all the answers. Some things have been implemented. We’re picking away at the response.”
Winikur said drainage problems on that field are not new. “We had heard from some of the neighbors that water collected there.” Still, he said, “we don’t want drainage problems.”
As to who will be responsible for the cost of fixing the drainage problems, no one would say.
“We have to see what the issue is, to see how it’s resolved,” before responsibility for the issue is determined, said Ken Romeo. He estimated testing would take another month or so.
“For me to point a finger at anyone — it’s easy to do, but not appropriate.”
Meanwhile, the Cole Girls Softball team will practice and play home games at Frenchtown School again this year (editor's note: this sentence has been amended since the story first published).