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Childcare site endures more problems

By ANDREA FURLONG

As work continues on the Williamsburg Child Development Center, the interest on its USDA loan keeps growing.

Representatives from the center’s two childcare entities and executive building committee approached the Williamsburg City Council at its May 24 meeting about the project, which is now over the childcare entities’ budget.

Childcare representatives presented a two-page document to the council that addressed recent project problems as defined by childcare directors Dee Culp, Jennifer Lane and Sandy Joseph.

According to the document, the directors were notified by USDA rep Sheri Rice two and a half weeks prior to the meeting that the interest on their loan had accumulated to $71,500 — nearly three times higher than the $25,000 the entities had budgeted. If the entities receive the full $13,800 of liquidated damages on the project, they estimated they would still be short by approximately $35,000. They estimated their monthly mortgage payments would increase by about $200, if given permission to increase the loan amount to help pay interest. 

Childcare reps outlined things that they believe have delayed the project, which was substantially completed four months behind schedule on Feb. 24. Since opening in early March, work continues on items general contractor Prostruct said would be done by April 30, weather pending. In their letter to the council, the directors said construction and architectural errors — not weather — are behind the delay.

According to the directors’ letter, architect Steve Trost has not visited the site in over three months and has ceased correspondence with the directors.

“(Trost) won’t return call(s) or e-mails from either entity directors, who are on site attempting to address issues and concern(s) from the subcontractors, as well as seek clarification,” the directors wrote.

The directors alleged that misinformation from Trost to general contractor Prostruct has resulted in errors that have increased the project’s cost in fixing them, while putting the site’s completion further behind schedule. 

“Grading of the playground was incorrect when W4C’s went to install their playground equipment, thus having to hire someone to regrade the playground at a cost of $530. Infant room issues: Incorrect cabinets installed. Steve (Trost) is now wanting to charge W4C’s to correct this error, around $1,000,” the letter read.

The directors alleged that at least one case of a poor design choice created problems in the building’s function.

“KIND Care is getting water coming into their space. . .from under the outside door when there is an east wind during rainstorms. This is due to the incorrect type of seal being placed at the bottom of the door, per plans from what Prostruct has explained to KIND Care,” the letter stated.

The three directors also contended that in the absence of the project’s general manager, Tom Stockdale, the quality of work has declined.

“(Tom Stockdale) is seldom on site to oversee subcontractors’ work. Subcontractors are telling Tom at Prostruct that work has been completed when it has obviously not been completed to standard. Examples: cleaning of building prior to occupancy — not done well, floor waxing, playground grading incorrect. Concern related to poor workmanship may cause further issues or problems. No one is overseeing the project to ensure completion, i.e. Steve Trost or Prostruct,” the letter stated.

KIND Care Director Sandy Joseph later said that in the absence of Stockdale and Trost’s ceased correspondence, the three childcare directors have spent extra hours on the job addressing architectural and construction problems.

“All of these issues that have been going on have been really taking away from the directors’ focus on programs. It just needs to be taken care of and we’re the ones taking care of it and it’s not our responsibility,” she said.

Childcare reps pressed the council for assistance in getting the childcare center completed as soon as possible to keep the interest on the loan from increasing further. They noted that beyond the project’s delay, the building’s operational costs and childcare program costs have stayed within the budget.

“Both W4C’s and KIND Care have been able to reach and maintain their business plans without having to raise rates. Actual costs to run the center have come in as originally estimated — which is great. This is a substantial unexpected hit to both entities’ budgets. I don’t know many — if any — businesses that could handle this without major impact on their operating budgets, ” the directors stated in their letter.

The council directed city clerk Jenifer Mein to communicate the directors’ concerns with Trost.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

The council approved:

• A plan by VJ Engineering to install a drainage system outside the Williamsburg Child Development Center.

• Paying $13,904 for grinder pumps for the industrial park lift station.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 14, at 7:30 p.m.

UPDATED June 9, 2010 3:05 PM

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