Martin Middle School reconstruction project moves along steadily

Orlo and Silver Spring window contractor could face deadline fines

By Mike Rego
Posted 2/5/24

The Martin Middle School reconstruction project is moving along at steady and, knock on wood, a rather seamless pace, according to East Providence School Department Director of Facilities Chris …

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Martin Middle School reconstruction project moves along steadily

Orlo and Silver Spring window contractor could face deadline fines


The Martin Middle School reconstruction project is moving along at steady and, knock on wood, a rather seamless pace, according to East Providence School Department Director of Facilities Chris Murphy.

Murphy described the performance of lead contractor for the Martin effort, Shawmut Design and Construction so far as "proficient and more."

Much of the work being done remains away from public view, including the remediation of asbestos at the old main office location on the north side of the property off Brown Street. Murphy said the remediation will likely continue for some six-to-eight weeks, approaching spring.

It is then when actual demolition of portions of the 47-year-old building will start, again on the north end where the new, three-story classroom structure will be constructed. Murphy said it will be at that time "the first big walls will start to come down."

Also of note recently, the district and contractors have received the necessary permitting from the state to begin digging at the location for the installation of new sewage and utility lines. Murphy noted some drainage concerns on the Martin location are being alleviated in part with the creation of retention ponds scattered around the property.

The current work is termed "Phase 1" on the Martin construction, estimated to take place from April 2024-April 2025. Phase 2, from January 2025-March 2026, calls for the construction of new common/administrative areas and the two-story Pre-K building on the south side of the property. Phase 3, from January 2026-August 2026, would include final reconfiguration of the grounds, including new athletic fields.

Funding notes
Funding for the MMS construction project comes from the $148 million in bonds overwhelmingly approved by voters at the November 2022 election to upgrade buildings throughout the city. A similarly comprehensive effort at Waddington Elementary School is also included in the allocation as are smaller projects at other schools.

The improvements at Waddington would be done in two phases. The first would be the renovation and expansion of 1970s addition as well as installing new HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems and windows with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accomodations made throughout the process of renovating the building.

For all of its outlays the district is expected to receive a base reimbursement rate of 48.5 percent from the state and, as it did for the new East Providence High School project, could gain as much as 20 percent more in state aid if the construction meets environmental and educational incentives. Voters also approved on the November '22 ballot another $250 million in school construction bonds as was done back in 2018 prior to the EPHS endeavor.

Window updates
The Orlo Avenue and Silver Spring School window projects are in the mire at the moment, the company initially hired to perform the work unable to finish on time and now facing the potential of monetary penalties.

Murphy said each project was, as per the text of the agreements, was to be completed over a period of eight-and-a-half weeks, but the main contractor, Mill City Construction Inc. of Lincoln, "didn't finish either."

The effort to replace the windows at the Orlo Avenue, specifically, began the week of June 26 of last year. There was more abatement of asbestos materials than first thought and some metal fabrication is needed to frame the new windows into the now 67-year-old structure.

The district could charge $1,500 per day after the Mill City, which subcontracted portions of the projects to Danielson Glass Co. from Danielson, Conn., did not meet its substantially complete deadline of September 30, 2023. The total as of last week was approaching $155,000.

Murphy said the companies "fell significantly short" of meeting the substantially completed requirements. He noted, the sum of the penalties could be deducted from the $270,000 the district owes the companies for work they have billed as finished.

Power outages
After the meeting, Murphy also addressed the recent power outages that hit several buildings around the district, which occurred as a result of severe windstorms in December just before the holiday recess

For the most part, he said the district, like all other residences and businesses, awaited Rhode Island Electric to repair downed or damaged power lines. Several buildings temporarily lost electricity the morning of December 18, but nearly all had it restored by the end of the school day.

Hennessey Elementary Schools, however, was impacted significantly, the only building to be without power over a span of some 48 hours into December 19.

The school, though, remained operational. After-school programs there were canceled on December 18. It was kept open for classes on December after Superintendent Dr. Sandra Forand was notified the building had power at around 5 a.m. But at about 9:30 a.m. it was lost again. It was fully back on at about 11 a.m. Murphy said the cause of the outage was determined to be three broken poles on nearby Lyon Avenue.

Murphy noted the fire suppression systems at each building was active, using battery power, were heated via natural gas and there was enough sunlight to conduct classes. The director said the lone necessity to keep some schools in session was the immediate purchase of some three-dozen battery operated camping lanterns, a handful of which were placed in the bathrooms at Hennessey, Kent Heights and Silver Spring.

Other than Hennessey, the loss of power at buildings around the district was fleeting. Murphy said East Providence High School lost electricity for mere minutes before its generators kicked in. The same occurred at Riverside and Martin, the two other large buildings in the district that have generator power.

Murphy added about the remaining elementary buildings — Waddington, Silver Spring, Whiteknact, Orlo Avenue and Francis — they were without electricity for only a few hours the day of the storm before it was restored. He said there was no report of outages impacted the Pre-K location at Oldham in Riverside.

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