Friday, August 13, 1999
RecCom wants legal recourse against Banta-Davis contractor
A deal's a deal, insisted members of the recreation commission as they urged the selectmen on August 3 to invoke the liquidated damages clause in the construction contract for the Banta-Davis playing fields for failure to complete the contract by July 5. RecCom director Carol Peters alleged that changes made by the contractor in the quality and scope of work without first complying with the change order process required under the contract were at the crux of the dispute. The contractor, Littleton Environmental Services, Inc. (LES), contends that changes were approved by clerk of the works Rob Hall, but were not fully documented, a contention not wholly disputed by Hall.
The selectmen sank lower in their seats as Peters recounted the history of the construction project since early May when it was reported that the project was on track. Peters said that no work was done in May and June. In its walkthrough on June 24, the RecCom found several instances in which the work was not completed in accordance with the plans and specifications.
For example, the entrance from Bedford Road was designed to be paved and to intersect perpendicular to the road, but the entrance as built is a coarse crushed concrete material that follows the old Banta-Davis entrance layout. In a letter to the RecCom dated July 29, Hall explained that the paving was postponed because pipes for the future school septic system run under the entrance and that paving will be performed by the department of public works. Town administrator David DeManche concurred that he had attended a meeting in which this pavement was discussed and that it was decided that a change order would be needed, but a change order was never made. The RecCom cited two dozen other deviations from the contract.
DeManche reported that there is no contingency fund left and that between $70,000 and $80,000 remains to be paid to LES upon completion of the work. LES also posted a performance bond which RecCom personnel explained guarantees completion of the contract in accordance with the plans and specifications. Peters reported that LES has requested an extension of completion to September 30 on the basis of delays in getting an electrical connection to the fields. The electricity is required for, among other things, running the irrigation system, which must be in working order before the fields can be seeded. Peters stated that the RecCom does not recommend approval of the extension.
Selectman Vivian Chaput suggested that the RecCom identify the crucial parts of the project left to be done and perhaps make some compromises. "It's not a question of being a nice guy," said Chaput, "but any time you have unknowns it is difficult to agree on the final numbers."
Everyone agreed that there had been communication problems. In his July 29 letter, even Hall acknowledged, "This letter [from DeManche to LES listing problems] is accepted as justified criticism of my failure to carry out the job assigned by the board of selectmen. Many of the points listed as requiring explanation are my responsibility. Some of these have been documented by correspondence and change orders, copies of which are in your files. Some are a result of my failure to document instructions and agreements subsequent to early April." The board instructed the RecCom to inform LES that the selectmen are reviewing the project and that all correspondence should be channeled through DeManche.
Concluded selectman Michael Fitzgerald, "I don't want go to back before Town Meeting and ask for more money."
According to RecCom member Lorraine Stone, on the day after the meeting the commissioners submitted a letter to the selectmen requesting that Rob Hall be removed as the project's clerk of the works. The selectmen will discuss the request at their next meeting, August 24.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito