Mediation over track now complete

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

When the town of Plainville set out to renovate the high school’s football field and track, they didn’t expect the project to last almost three years. But, due to technical difficulties, the new rubber surface that was laid down in the Summer of 2016 began to bubble and became unsafe for use.

Plainville hired LaRosa Earth Group, LLC as the contractor, and Kaestle Boos Associates, Inc. as the architects. LaRosa then hired Dalton Track and Tennis as a subcontractor, and KBA hired BSC Group, Inc. as a subcontractor. The track was then installed and opened by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. But in the fall of 2016, the rubber surface of the track began bubbling and was deemed unusable.

Town Manager Robert Lee explained that due to the finger-pointing on all sides, the dispute went to mediation. The session was held before retired Superior Court Judge Jonathan E. Silbert, on Dec 1. Mediation lasted approximately eight and a half hours.

Lee explained that the original project was to update the football field from natural grass to artificial turf, and that the track was then added to the project.

“We figured, at the same time, the resurfacing of the track should be done while we do that [football field] because you have a lot of the equipment there,” said Lee. “The track was at the end of its useful life, so let’s combine the two projects into one.”

After chipping in $220,000, Plainville was able to secure a state funded grant of $950,000, and a $500,000 grant from the Tinty Foundation. But once the project went out to bid, they realized that the amassed funds wouldn’t be enough.

“Someone went back to the Tinty Foundation and asked if they would be willing to chip in a few more dollars,” explained Lee. The Tinty Foundation, created at the request of and in the memory of Donald Tinty, is dedicated to supporting youth athletics, public safety services, and animal care and rights. The Tinty Foundation donated another half a million dollars to Plainville for the project.

Thanks to the donations by the Tinty Foundation, Plainville was able to update the football field and track, as well as update the softball field to artificial turf and to enlarge it, turning it into a multipurpose field.

Going into mediation, LaRosa was seeking to recover $275,000; half of which would go to Dalton for labor and material, and the other half would go back to LaRosa because they removed the defective track and repaved the asphalt base that the rubber surface was laid upon in the Summer of 2017. KBA was seeking $70,000 for additional architectural and construction administration fees.

By the end of the mediation session, and based upon the recommendation of the mediator, KBA agreed to write-off and release Plainville from its claim of $70,000. And, LaRosa moved from $275,000 to $60,000, which would be covered by Plainville ($43,334), KBA ($8,333) and BSC ($8,333). Plainville’s portion would come from the Turf Field Account, at no additional cost to taxpayers.

“While an argument could be made that the track wasn’t installed properly,” said Lee, “The judge made the argument that the town received what’s called a ‘betterment’ as a result of the mistake.”

Lee explained that the betterment comes, not from getting a new track because that’s what the town paid for, but from the new life expectancy of the track because of the new asphalt base.

“Maybe the old pavement could have lasted another ten years,” said Lee. “But the new pavement is going to stretch it an additional 20 to 30 years. There’s a benefit to that, and that benefit corresponds to a cost.”

Before agreeing to pay, the results of the mediation had to be approved by the Town Council. On Dec 4, the Town Council met in Executive Session with Town Attorney Michael Mastrianni and Lee to discuss the results. The council voted unanimously to approve the settlement.

Comment? Email tmurchison@BristolObserver.com.