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Williamsburg childcare center nears completion

By ANDREA FURLONG

childcare
Project manager of the Williamsburg Child Development Center, Tom Stockdale, left, shows mayor Frank Murphy, second from left, the interior of one of the building’s childcare rooms Wednesday, Feb. 10. Childcare workers Dee Culp and Jennifer Lane, right, also toured the facility.

The general contractor of Williamsburg’s new childcare facility is confident substantial completion will be reached in the next 11 days, despite building committee members’ reports that it won’t be finished for another month.

During a tour of the Williamsburg Child Development Center Feb. 10, Prostruct project manager Tom Stockdale told childcare workers Dee Culp and Jennifer Lane and mayor Frank Murphy he was confident substantial completion will be reached by Feb. 28.

“We think we’re very close to turning this project over. We have some things that are not done, but we are very, very close,” he said.

Stockdale pointed out to the group that every one of the building’s seven classrooms is completed or near completion, including the installation of each room’s restroom facilities and cabinetry. He said the most recent factors that have delayed Prostruct from reaching substantial completion are weather and missing equipment. Stockdale said in some cases the crew waited over a month for some parts to be shipped, like diffusers for the building.

“When I know where those parts are, then it’s easier to give someone a date. People ask for (completion) dates and we give them the best guess we can based on the information we have,” he said.

Stockdale pointed to a rainy October as the reason progress slowed on the building’s exterior and site work last fall.

“We were unable to do hardly any work outside then,” he said.

The largest hang-up of the project was the design and construction of the retaining wall, he said. Stockdale said it took months to design the retaining wall, which was mentioned in the contract without instructions to build it. Once Prostruct had a design, Stockdale said the crew encountered further complications.

“They couldn’t use the dirt on site to build it, because it was too saturated,” he said.

Stockdale contended that the number of laborers on site was not a factor in project delays, as some executive building committee members have said.

“I think that assessment has a thread of truth in it, but it’s been expanded dramatically. We’ve had substantial crews here,” he said.

However, Stockdale did note that the number of laborers fluctuated at times.

“In some degree it relates to weather. Some people are more local than others. There may have been days where we had half a dozen people and the next day there were 20. And, as far as supervision, typically I’ve been here four out of every five days, subject to weather,” he said.

In order to reach substantial completion, Stockdale said the following will have to be done: pouring of some sections of sidewalk, installation of diffusers, installation of one sink, leveling of dirt on site and installation of energy recovery units to the point of operation.

 Stockdale projected all work to be finished by the end of April, weather pending. Work that will occur after substantial completion includes pavement marking, installation of fencing, connecting of air conditioning units, erosion control, backfill and grading and possibly the finishing of some concrete sidewalks.

IMT’S ROLE

Bonding company IMT Insurance, West Des Moines, hired Prostruct to finish the project when the original contractor, Frantz Construction, declared bankruptcy last summer. Stockdale emphasized despite delays on the project caused by Frantz’s bankruptcy, IMT’s goal has always been to finish the building as close as possible to the October contractual date of completion.

“I feel very badly that individuals are looking at this as the small community versus the big insurance company. That is just so far from the truth. Financially, the best thing the bonding company could have done was shut this thing down till spring . . . and turn it over some time in the summer,” he said.

Stockdale said the company spent “tens of thousands of dollars” outside the contractual amount in order to move the project along.

“You don’t see many contractors heating the ground to pour concrete in the winter. It rarely happens, because it’s very expensive,” he said.

Stockdale added he sees the end of February as a fair date for substantial completion, considering the weather conditions this winter.

“In spite of one of the worst winter seasons on record from this state, we are going to turn this building over in a very timely fashion. People seem to be missing that,” he said.

UPDATED February 17, 2010 10:56 AM

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