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Aug 8, 2018 10:11 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Tensions Run High At Bridgehampton School Board Meeting On Tuesday

Nick Amoruso, president of Bohemia-based School Construction Consultants, lays out the current plan for the Bridgehampton School expansion. VALERIE GORDON
Aug 9, 2018 12:15 PM

Bridgehampton Board of Education members on Tuesday expressed frustration with a delay in the Montauk Highway school’s planned expansion, which officials announced last month would cost significantly more than originally thought.

It was also revealed at a special meeting on Tuesday night that the project’s architect, John Grillo, of JAG Architects in Port Jefferson, took it upon himself to remove plans to construct a new library at the school prior to a second round of bid requests this summer, in an effort to reduce the cost of the project.

The expansion project was placed on hold earlier this month due to a drastic rise in labor and construction costs, which sent the project $4.7 million over projections. A $24.7 million bond, authorized by taxpayers in May 2016, was to fund a 35,000-square-foot addition to the rear of the school, replacing 40-year-old portable trailers, as well as a variety of upgrades and renovations, including a new gymnasium, two-story library, cafeteria and technology room.

The seven-member board expressed frustration with Mr. Grillo, saying that the board was not adequately included in several key decisions in the process. He did not attend the board meeting and could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

The biggest point of contention at Tuesday’s meeting, which was held in the school’s cramped cafeteria, was the architect’s omission of the library in the board’s second round of bids—a change that the board was unaware of. Currently, the school’s library occupies a small classroom on the second floor, which is shared with the district’s two academic intervention services teachers.

“Now we’re on a job that’s not quite what we thought it was,” said Board Vice President Lillian Tyree-Johnson.

Others agreed. “We were told that it was included,” Trustee Markanthony Verzosa, who is architecturally trained, said of the library.

“We have no idea what we’re bonding,” added board member Douglas DeGroot.

“Our backs are against the wall—we’re not getting enough information from the architect,” continued Mr. Verzosa. “We don’t have confidence in what’s happening, so we’re going to question everything.”

Board President Ron White added to that sentiment on Tuesday, noting that the board relied solely on Mr. Grillo’s estimates and expertise. “That backfired on us—trusting the experts,” he said.

Mr. Grillo estimated the expansion to cost about $425 per square foot, which included an anticipated 5 percent increase in labor and construction costs. However, last month, general contractor bids came in around $525 per square foot—15 percent higher than originally anticipated.

“He’s an architect. He should know what things cost,” Trustee Michael Gomberg said. “I can’t get past that.”

At a special meeting on August 20, the board will meet with Mr. Grillo to discuss making changes to the expansion project, trimming parts of the proposal to help cover some of the deficit.

District officials also will ask taxpayers to vote on approving $4.7 million in additional funds, which will include the library addition, on Thursday, September 13, from 2 to 8 p.m. in the school’s music and science building.

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Think about hiring someone to over see the job for the board. You will save money in the end...
By knitter (1604), Southampton on Aug 8, 18 6:15 PM
The school spends too much money period. The taxpayers should vote NO.
How can the board have the nerve to even propose this. Shame.
By rvs (101), sag harbor on Aug 9, 18 9:57 PM
How about a building committee made up of contractors in the school district. I'd bet you would find a lot of volunteers...
By knitter (1604), Southampton on Aug 15, 18 2:48 PM