Tisbury, Seaver Construction still at odds on ESF issues

Construction of Tisbury's emergency services facility on West Spring Street shows signs of progress, with a new base coat of asphalt recently poured. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Although construction of Tisbury’s Emergency Services Facility (ESF) continues, an agreement about the scope and terms of remedial work is still under negotiation between the town and general contractor Seaver Construction. In the meantime, a $1,000 a day penalty clause in Seaver’s contract for non-completion of the project kicked in last week.

As the latest step towards an agreement, on July 8 Seaver Construction provided a building enclosure report for review by the town’s engineers and architects for the project, according to ESF building committee chairman Joe Tierney.

“Seaver’s report is in response to our building envelope report,” Mr. Tierney said in a phone conversation with The Times on Tuesday. “Seaver is eager to get to work to correct problems as soon as we come up with a definitive list and agree on what the problems are and what to do to fix them.”

At the time of the ESF groundbreaking in April 2010, the contract completion date for the project was June 4, 2011. There have been several delays since then.

“We won’t have a schedule from Seaver until we have an actual agreement on what they’ll correct and how, and then we’ll develop a schedule from that,” Mr. Tierney said.

He estimated it could be two weeks to a month before the town and Seaver Construction firm up the agreement’s terms. “We’re close on getting the roof and trim finished up, and once we get those things rolling, hopefully everything else will start kicking in,” he said.

In the meantime, the $1,000 a day penalty charges for non-completion mount up. Money from such a penalty usually covers extending contracts for the architect and OPM, as well as other expenses associated with a project’s delayed completion.

The ESF building committee, NETCO, HKT, town administrator John Bugbee and town counsel Attorney David Doneski are reviewing and discussing Tisbury’s options at this juncture, Mr. Tierney said.

Additional costs

As a result of the schedule delays, the Tisbury selectmen voted in June to approve contract extensions for HKT Architects and owner’s project manager David Lager of NETCO Project Managers until October or November, depending on a revised construction completion date.

At the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday night, Mr. Bugbee said HKT Architects have requested additional money for extra work they’ve already done above and beyond the terms of their contract. Mr. Bugbee said he and Mr. Doneski asked the firm to provide a detailed summary of the work and charges.

“We don’t want to affect a great relationship with HKT,” Mr. Bugbee said, adding that HKT has worked hard and gone to bat for the town many times.

“We just want to make sure for the taxpayer what the money in the contract is going for,” he said.

The cost of additional construction administration services and who will pay for them is also an issue for Tisbury and Seaver.

In a conversation with The Times after the selectmen’s meeting, Mr. Bugbee said it might be possible to reduce Seaver Construction’s charges for liquidated damages at the project’s end. However, right now, the clock is ticking on the $1,000 a day penalty, which provides leverage for the town in getting the project done correctly and completed as soon as possible.


Seaver Construction received a $5.52 million construction contract to build Tisbury’s approximately 18,500-square-foot ESF on West Spring Street. It will house the town’s fire, ambulance, and emergency management departments.

Last month, with the 13-month project more than a year under construction, the Tisbury selectmen hired Building Envelope Associates (BEA) to evaluate significant water leaks and associated issues, and to make recommendations for remedial and weatherproofing work.

BEA, an independent consulting firm in Cambridge, issued a draft report in May 20 that included a list of items and recommended fixes. The report’s findings prompted project manager Michael Lawrence of HKT Architects to order Seaver Construction to stop work on several elements of the ESF building envelope on May 20.

Other work on site and inside of the building continued. Seaver Construction president Scott Seaver hired his own building enclosure engineer, who responded to Tisbury’s report from BEA last week.

One of the project’s most significant delays was due to a botched job on the concrete slab poured for the building’s foundation in November 2010.

The slab poured by Demello Concrete Floor Company of Tiverton, R.I., a subcontractor hired directly by Seaver Construction, did not meet HKT’s design specifications. It had a high spot towards the middle of the building, which would affect the floor’s drainage and possibly lead to slippery and hazardous workplace conditions.

HKT Architects talked with Seaver Construction personnel, who provided four proposed repair options last December. As of this week, Mr. Tierney said the issue has not yet been resolved.

“The building envelope report overtook the floor issue for the last few months,” he said. “Although it’s still on the table, it hasn’t really impacted work on the building until now. We need to get everything tightened up and get the sheet rock work going. I’ve been told once that’s done, it’s usually about four months until a building gets completed.”

Personnel challenges

At the time of the BEA report’s May release, Mr. Seaver said many of the problems it highlighted stemmed from personnel no longer at work on the project.

The current construction site supervisor, Dennis Mason, was approved on a temporary basis. He is the third one Seaver Construction has appointed since the project’s start.

At a meeting on June 28, the Tisbury selectmen agreed to give Mr. Mason two more weeks to demonstrate his ability to manage the ESF project before they decide whether to accept his participation long-term, based on recommendations from Mr. Tierney, the OPM and HKT architects.

In an update to the selectmen on Tuesday night, Mr. Tierney said that over the past two weeks, “We’ve been supervising the supervisor.”

A review of the records on jobs done incorrectly on the ESF project determined they were not done under Mr. Mason’s supervision, Mr. Tierney added.

“So far everything’s been going relatively smoothly, as smoothly as it can go,” he said.

When will it be done?

In terms of the construction schedule, Mr. Tierney told The Times, “The building enclosure report slowed everything down, because both sides had to review it and respond to it.”

Once the building committee receives HKT’s and Seaver’s recommendations, Mr. Tierney will ask the selectmen for a decision on what the town should do.

Regardless of what choices are made, he said the building committee would appropriate additional funding to the building envelope enclosure consultant to oversee repair of the work.

“The clerk of the works [Gerry Dineen of NETCO] is too busy watching what’s going on in the building; he can’t spend all day up on the roof,” Mr. Tierney explained.

He summarized the project’s current progress by concluding, “I would say we’re not moving downhill.”