The North Syracuse Central School District has reached a settlement with the company that improperly installed the walls at Gillette Road Middle School when the school was renovated in 2005.
The district provided a copy of the settlement to the Eagle Star-Review as the result of a Freedom of Information request.
According to the settlement, the district awarded NEP Glass a contract for aluminum windows and curtainwall on Dec. 16, 2002, for a bid price of $1,146,000.
In August of 2011, the district’s architectural firm, Mossien Associates Architects, P.C., informed then-Associate Superintendent for Management Wayne Bleau that the exterior walls at the school were improperly installed.
“There were a number of different problems with the project that were addressed after construction. As they addressed each problem, they stumbled on something else,” said current Assistant Superintendent for Management Donald Keegan. “The most significant issue was that there were no brackets [in place] to reinforce the wall. That was found because we had problems with leaking and voles getting into the building, so they pulled the panels and discovered it. This happened years after the construction was completed; they realized the school wasn’t built the way it was supposed to be built.”
Because of the issue, safety glass in the exterior walls at the school has the potential to become unstable and collapse at winds of more than 75 miles an hour. The district had to implement a wind emergency plan that called for the evacuation of the building if winds exceeded 50 miles an hour. The school has closed several times in the last three years due to high winds.
The district filed suit against NEP, as well as Ashley McGraw Architects, which oversaw the project, and Harleysville Worcester Insurance Company, NEP’s insurer, in 2011. NEP filed a countersuit against the district, as well as its subcontractor, Mark Donahue, and MJD Associates of CNY, Inc., shortly thereafter. The settlement resolves all of those claims.
“The most important thing is that this summer, NEP Glass, the primary contractor on the project, is going to repair the exterior walls of the building so that it meets our specifications,” Keegan said. “Then we won’t need the wind emergency plan.”
Separate repairs were completed to the walls in 2009.
An additional $58,919.75 will be paid to NEP once the remediation work is completed. Once the issue was discovered, the district halted payment to NEP.
The district signed and accepted the settlement on Dec. 1, while NEP accepted it on Feb. 22.
NEP will complete the reconstruction between June 25 and Aug. 15, while students are on summer break, under the guidance of structural engineer David DeSutter of EFCO Corp. They are also required to provide a one-year installation warranty, while EFCO will provide a two-year warranty.
“At the end of the day, Gillette Road is a great building, but when we get winds over 50 miles an hour, we have to go into our wind emergency plan and evacuate the building, because there’s a risk they’ll come down,” Keegan said “This summer we’ll embark on a project to take the exterior walls apart and put them back up so that they meet the original specifications. Then we’ll work with the New York State Department of Education to get the plan lifted.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.