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R-3 building projects are behind schedule

Siegrist work has been installed; Ground yet to be broken at Barry

by Dave Kinnamon
Landmark reporter

The buck stops here, Dr. Mark Harpst seemingly told the representative from Platte County R-3 School District’s architectural firm on Thursday evening.

Why are the district’s recently-passed no-tax-increase bond issue building projects “behind schedule,” Harpst demanded to know of Bill Mankin, the representative from ACI Frangkiser Hutchens, the district architectural firm.

In fact, why has ground not even been broken at the second facility at the Barry School campus, and why has work been stalled for at least two weeks at the Siegrist Elementary School addition?

The delays in the two voter-approved construction projects could jeopardize the planned opening of the second Barry school for the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year, and the spring 2009 dedication of the eight-classroom pod and multi-purpose room at Siegrist Elementary in Platte City, Harpst conceded.

“We could consider delaying the start of the school year in 2008-2009 in order to ensure the Barry building is ready to be moved into,” Harpst said.

Despite promises to the contrary made to R-3 patrons prior to the April 7 no-tax-increase bond issue vote, ground has not been broken at the new building for Barry School campus and work at the Siegrist addition is at “a total standstill,” R-3 board of education members heard at their Thursday evening meeting.

Unanticipated delays and surprises in the building permitting processes are the reasons for the delays, Mankin said.

The R-3 board of education received a comprehensive construction update at its regular monthly meeting on Thursday at the district’s central office in Platte City.

The regular open session was not scheduled to begin until 6 p.m., but the board opened the meeting and began public business at 5:30 p.m., 30 minutes prior to the published meeting start time. The 5:30 p.m. start was listed on the published agenda as a “work session” while the “open session” was listed as beginning at 6 p.m.

Board members Dick Modin and Carey Rolofson, and new assistant superintendent Rob Gardner, were all absent from the board meeting. Gardner was attending a graduate class, Harpst said.

But all ears were tuned in to the district’s architectural representative—Mankin—and Palmer Manning, of Manning Construction, Inc., the district’s builder.

Manning specifically addressed the actual construction issues at Siegrist, where, unlike at Barry, construction has actually begun.

“Some of the brick faces are not lining up real well,” Manning said.

Harpst used Manning’s comment to transition the discussion to concerns about timelines and project completion.

“All of you are well aware at my disappointment that we have not started at Barry, and we are behind schedule at Siegrist,” Harpst said.

Looking slightly hesitant and perhaps a bit embarrassed, Mankin approached the forum in front of the school board. Mankin took the entire blame for the project delay at Barry.

“I think everyone knows that we have encountered some rocks in the road and those have caused us delays. I want to apologize personally. There have been some internal things going on in our office, and we are making efforts to get things caught up,” Mankin said.

Delays in building permits are the primary reasons for the delays, he said.

The land disturbance permit, issued or denied by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), has been a particular sore spot, according to Mankin.

Bottom line: The demolition and grading work has not even been started at the R-3’s Barry School campus. Demolition and grading are two essential site preparation actions that must occur before the construction of the second building at the Barry campus can proceed.
“We’re about a month off from where we wanted to be today. With the benefit of hindsight now, we should have been done with the permitting process back in March,” said Mankin, again squarely taking the blame.

Mankin specifically acknowledged that the district, through his information, had provided the R-3 patrons a specific timetable, dates which were wrapped into the no-tax-increase bond issue marketing efforts.

“Once the site is prepared, we should be able to go right in to the construction of the Barry building,” Mankin said.

“During the levy campaign, we promised our voters that the Barry building would be ready for the start of the fall 2008. Is that still going to happen?” board president Bob Shaw asked.

“Barring unforeseen circumstances, I see no reason why the new Barry building should not be ready by the fall 2008,” Mankin replied.

“One thing that has caused some delays at Siegrist is part of the value-engineering that we’ve done, to save money, is remove block walls and replace them with a steel-beam framing system. From our structural engineer, we knew that was going to take some time. I expect we’ll see a constructive cost credit come back from the structural steel company. We’re now in the position to pick up the pieces and go, at this point,” Mankin said.

Board member Trish Stinnett then raised similar concerns about delays and meeting scheduled timetables at the Siegrist addition.
“Are we working at Siegrist, or not? I thought things were at a standstill,” Stinnett asked.

Palmer Manning, of Manning Construction, replied that work has indeed been at a standstill at Siegrist for the past two weeks, but “we expect to start pre-casting in the next few days,” Manning said.

“I’m shocked to hear of DNR permit issues at Barry,” Stinnett said, “Because that was one of your major selling points,” Stinnett said to Manning.

“I’m not here to make excuses, but one of things, factually, that occurred during this process was a procedure change by the city (Kansas City, Mo.),” Mankin added.

Speaking about the new second facility at the Barry campus, Manning said: “We’re not going to get pre-cast erected until probably late September, and then we can insert the steel. We’re shooting to get the roof on and the building enclosed by late December. Everything’s got to flow perfectly. That’s better than trying to do masonry during the winter.”

Harpst made clear that moving into the new facilities, once completed, will not be rush jobs.

“The one thing from my perspective, having it done on time is one thing, but unless you have lead time to move into the facility, that puts a tremendous burden on our people. I want the board to understand that my concern goes beyond getting the building done but getting things moved in, getting technology put in place, move in there right, and be ready to have school,” Harpst said.



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