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Work Begins At Malverne School Sports Facilities

Residents, board members question contract procedures and lack of information.

Workers began overhauling the athletic complex at Malverne High School this week as part of a residents approved in the fall. 

The track has been shut down as construction vehicles prep the grounds to install turf on the football field.

"We expect the football field to be complete by Sept. 15 for the opening game of the season," said Spiro Colaitis, assistant superintendent for District Operations, at the July 12 school board meeting. The bleachers, tennis and basketball courts should be completed by Nov. 1.

Colaitis explained that work has also commenced on the locker rooms and bathrooms in the middle school, as well as an abatement project. With the exception of the installation of lockers, these parts of Proposition #2 will be finished by the start of the school year.

"It looks like it's off to a good start," Superintendent James Hunderfund said.

Board Trustee Gina Genti then expressed her discontent over the district's failure to provide her, as well as the rest of the board, with the paperwork for the winning bids that they approved late last month.

She said she had requested these documents on June 29, following a the board held to approve the bids that came in at the lowest reasonable price for the work planned at the high school and Herber Middle School and to authorize the president to sign the contracts when they were finalized.

Colaitis said the administration had misunderstood Genti's request, explaining that they thought she wanted to see all of the bids submitted, which would have required him to print 5,000 sheets of paper to provide each board member with a copy of the 600-sheet package. As a result, Genti and the other board members only received a memo late last week.

"I asked for your contractors' proposals on June 29 and got a memo Thursday...a week and a half response time," Genti said. "There is $4 million of work going on in my backyard and I haven't seen the contracts."

Colaitis explained that the contracts are not available yet, because they were only recently drafted and reviewed by the district's legal counsel, and have been sent to the contractors to sign. From there they will go to for her signature and then they can be made available.

Hopkins requested that Spiro send a copy of the winning proposals to all members of the board this week, but Genti still questioned why the district's response time was so poor.

Hunderfund said that the administration responds to directives when they come from the majority of the board, not individual trustees, a statement that clearly outraged Genti.

Trustee and newly elected Vice President Karen Aker, said, "In the past, if one board member asks for something, we all got it."

Some residents also questioned why the work has started before the contracts were signed, expressing their worries about liability issues.

Florence Frazer, the district's legal counsel, said, "The contract is something my office has to review to make sure you’re protected and make sure the scope of the work is in there, but it takes some work because it has to be reviewed by counsel."

She and Colaitis assured residents that the district is "well protected."

"We issued a letter of award. That's how work is done. The contract is just a formality," Colaitis said. He explained that there is a proposal, plans, specs, scope, qualifications, a bond and insurance in place - although Genti made a point to say that this information has not been shared with the board.

"I'm not sure what you’re inferring here," Colaitis said to one resident. "It was all done in public."

He even welcomed anyone interested in seeing any of the paperwork to come to the central administration office to view it.

"If we had waited until the contracts were done we wouldn't have football fields and locker rooms done for the school year," he added.

Another issue that was brought up at the June 28 special meeting regarding the bond work, was the lack of a construction manager for the project. Colaitis said he would take on this responsibility for this phase of the bond work since it is less complicated then the plans contained in Proposition #1 which has not commenced yet. Still, the board decided to also hire a clerk of the works to help oversee the construction that will take place at the middle and high school grounds over the next few months.*

They announced at Tuesday's meeting that Michael Reed, son of active community member Rener Reed, was selected for this position.

Stay with Patch to learn more about what was discussed at Tuesday's school board meeting.

*A previous version of this article contained an inaccurate statement about the nature of the the clerk of the works position. Patch regrets the error.

Gina Genti July 13, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Tara, I believe you are misunderstanding the role Mr. Reeds firm will have. It is my understanding that he will be on site every week for several hours throughout the duration of the project. He will not be in stand by mode but will have an active role to fill over the course of the project. I am grateful that the board chose an experienced individual with ties to the community and I'm confident our interests will be protected.
Tara Conry (Editor) July 13, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Gina. Did the board decide to change the clerk of the works role then? At the June 28 meeting I got the impression from the dialogue that this job was added should Spiro be called for military duty or need to take vacation time. It was stated that the person would be brought in to learn about the project in the beginning and then "go away" until they were needed. This is no longer the case?
Gina Genti July 13, 2011 at 07:18 PM
I understand why you may have gotten that impression during discussion but clearly the BOE has decided that we want him there throughout the project.
Tara Conry (Editor) July 13, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Thanks for clearing that up. I'll make the correction.

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