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Plumbing & Field Fixes On Tap At Cole

The contractor will fix a sewer pipe “belly” on the first floor over April break, while drainage problems and an infield replacement will keep the softball field from being used this year.


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).

M Berg March 14, 2012 at 02:27 PM
I have lived in EG for over 50 years and there has never been a water problem on those fields, just baloney from this Winikur gent. I walked my dogs at Cole over the years so I have no idea as to what neighbors would say that…..heck the neighbors are suing these people so I don’t know where he gets his info. Just a CYA statement. Just another screwed up EG School Committee project. I guess we will pay for all the fixes for this as we did for all the other building screw ups this EGSC has given us. We never get the “real” skinny on what is going on with these mess ups….always we are studying it and we get back to you …as all is done behind closed doors. The EGSC is an embarrassment. I wouldn’t give the EGSC another dime of mine to spend.
Chris Soucie March 14, 2012 at 02:38 PM
I suggest that the town or school committee SKIN the field at Frenchtown so the girls can play on a proper softball field. There first home game is April 4th. Not only do the Cole girls play on this field but so do the EG little league girls. Lets tear up the grass.
Elizabeth McNamara (Editor) March 14, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Thanks for the correction!
NATIVE 1950 March 14, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Let's get the contractor back who did the fields at Cole and have them set up a transit level and regrade the field and then before final grading, let the area settle for a couple of weeks. Then how about a little clay mix for the final application. As far as all you softballer's go, I'm sure there are enough fields in this town to play/practice softball on. I have lived here all my life and know every field in this town there is to play on. What's wrong with Eldredge? Is that a private field nowadays? People need to learn how to share these fields until all the repairs are made.
Karen Benavent March 14, 2012 at 11:13 PM
As a fan and advocate of EG Softball, I think it is important to get the facts out there. The Cole girls have not played a game on the Cole field since Spring of 2009. The girls have practiced at Hanaford School and played their home games on the middle field at Frenchtown. They have shared time on the Hanaford field with the girls' middle school Lacrosse team. The lower field at Cole has been a girls's field for at least 35 years. There was never a raised pitching mound, as would be found on a boys' little league field. There was a grass infield, which has fallen out of favor and it is no longer the standard for fast pitch softball. Since my home is adjacent to the back field, I have had the opportunity to watch all of the construction. The field was supposed to be a Middle School softball field, which can also be used by the Little League Softball Program. It was clear that a raised mound and grass infield was being constructed. I alerted all of the School Committee before the construction was complete. In the end, we were told it was easier to have the field finished as a boys' little league field, not middle school size, and the town would fix the infield at a later date. In the last 15 years, there has never been a pooling problem in the left field , 3rd base area. It happened after the field was done. The field was seeded. It probably was not going to be available for play this spring. The field needs to be fixed and safe for all the sports played on it.
Roxanna March 16, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Why are we spending huge amounts of money on non-essentials during these tough times. Our taxes are ridiculously high and yet the frivolous spending and costly mistakes never end.
Elizabeth McNamara (Editor) March 16, 2012 at 10:02 PM
M Berg, your comment is restored. It got flagged by three readers, which automatically moved it. Not sure what that's all about but I can override the flags and have.
Elizabeth McNamara (Editor) March 17, 2012 at 04:48 PM
The comments section is open to everyone to express their opinion. Flagging comments should only happen if that comment is truly offensive. If you don't agree with someone's comment, you are welcome to respond in the comments section. Please DON'T flag comments just because you don't agree with them.
NATIVE 1950 March 17, 2012 at 08:06 PM
When submitting comments, let's not use the profanity that was used in softball fan's comment. If i see such words I will flag these comments immediately.

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