Project delays force moves

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

No, Andy Madura isn’t holding a fire sale on school buses.

SAD 61 buses are now parked in a field area off Route 302 in Bridgton because the school district has leased a nearby garage. The move became necessary when school officials determined that the new bus garage and educational facility would not be ready to open at the start of the new school year, later this month.

NOT READY FOR SCHOOL OPENING — Construction of the new SAD 61 bus garage and educational building is behind schedule, which has forced school officials to lease garage space in Bridgton and move three vocational programs to the Bridgton Memorial School.

Madura, director of Transportation, Maintenance and Food Service, received permission from the SAD 61 School Board Tuesday night to reopen Bridgton Memorial “for 60 days or more, as needed” to house three Lake Region Vocational Center programs — law enforcement, automotives and house construction.

Construction of the bus garage and educational facility is seriously behind schedule, which has prompted a meeting today between the contractor — Littlefield Brothers of Wells — and SAD 61 administration. While subcontractors have completed numerous pieces of the project, Madura told school board members that Littlefield has failed to commit a large enough workforce (using two or three workers rather than a crew of 10) to complete the work on time.

The contract between the two parties called for the bus garage portion to be completed by June 15, and the educational section by June 24. The contractor can be fined $1,000 per day for work not completed by that timeline. Madura said the contractor has agreed to cover costs associated with the rental of the Bridgton garage, to be used for bus maintenance, as well as expenses incurred by using Bridgton Memorial. He added that the district plans to be “as frugal as possible.”

Madura remains hopeful that Littlefield can “show a bigger commitment in terms of effort” to get the project completed without SAD 61 considering other options.

“There have been some mis-steps along the way, which put the project behind schedule,” Madura said. Those “mis-steps” included the contractor’s decision to put off concrete work until the spring, thus avoiding having to heat the building. There were also delays caused by procedural matters involving the contractor and architect. Madura told directors he remains “optimistic” that the project can be completed without seeking legal action or make a move to change contractors.

Meanwhile, LRVC Director Rosie Schacht looks at the temporary move to Bridgton Memorial as an opportunity to explore other teaching opportunities, including seeking out apprenticeships with local automotive repair and automotive parts shops. Students spend the first few weeks in the classroom learning about safety and other matters, so Schacht feels the inconvenience can be lessened by some “creative” measures.

Madura said the high school project is “two months ahead of schedule, despite what things look like right now.” When working on an old building, one never knows what he might find. Case in point. While tearing apart the automotive section, an old vehicle lift was found, buried. In another area, an electrical box was uncovered, and will likely save the project $40,000.

Please follow and like us: