Wednesday, March 23, 2016

WWNY: Between Concrete and a Hard Place

    From reading the comments, everyone is now an expert on concrete. I concede I don't know if this story the media is shopping is a big deal or not.
     When you are in office, you rely (perhaps too much sometimes) on the experts for legal advice, engineering advice, labor advice, etc.
      In addition to the City Engineer, this project was overseen by a hired clerk of the works from a local engineering firm.
      There were also the design engineers. The people who placed a pillar in the middle of a doorway that had to be moved after the fact.
       While a project of this size is complicated with many moving parts, it is a shame to see the facility's roll out marred by this kind of news.
        Hopefully it's not a big deal and the City can move on to getting the place in use.
            http://www.wwnytv.com/news/local/Watertowns-New-Ice-Arena-May-Have-Problems-373099351.html

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of people who know a lot about concrete around here. Construction is the third biggest employer around here, after government and healthcare. Working with concrete, you cannot help but to pick up the knowledge. Just as you have a high level of knowledge outside of slinging drinks and journalism.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't take a concrete engineer to see cracks and rebar.

Anonymous said...

"In addition to the City Engineer, this project was overseen by a hired clerk of the works from a local engineering firm."

After forty something years in the Project & Construction Management fields I can say without hesitation that on the average project, mistakes by the Architects &/or Engineers are just as, or even more, likely to cost the Owner money, and cause "quality" issues, as are mistakes by the Contractor. There was a big push back in the 90's by these professional firms to provide a "one stop shop", providing not only design services but the oversight on their projects. Now we have the foxes watching the hen houses. A nice little profit center for the professional firms and any responsibility for design errors is now routinely shifted to the Contractor.

Anonymous said...

yeah it's rocket science to oversee a construction project... so hard. very few peoplease are capable of it... for the CoW. Let the taxpayers suffer

Anonymous said...

Not all engineers are cut from the same cloth, experience matters almost more than education.

John Eisenhauer said...

Jeff, it doesn't take an expert on concrete to figure out that the exposed mesh/re-bar is probably a good indicator that the project, as constructed, does not meet contract specifications. The questions then become "Why is that specification in the contract?", "What purpose (life, health, safety; durability; etc.) does that specification serve?" and "What is the City of Watertown going to do to ensure that it gets what it pays for with taxpayer dollars?" To say that this is cosmetic, typical, "nothing out of the ordinary" (quote in the paper from the City Engineer), raises the question, "Then why would the design specify placement of the mesh with cover by the concrete?" I think there is an argument to be made that the City's willingness (read that City staff as I'm pretty sure that the elected officials were not the ones to accept this product; rather, they can only react to decisions made, so their reaction to this is important in terms of what type of oversight they now provide) to accept something less than what is specified in the contract is poor stewardship of taxpayer dollars. That is what is most concerning to me. . .can they be trusted to properly steward taxpayer resources.

John Eisenhauer said...

Yes, I am replying to my own comment. So, there is some mis-information out there as presented by the media. . .really not presenting the whole story. Are there issues with the slab? Yes, and they've been identified by the engineering staff and elevated to the city council/mayoral leadership. Is the rink opening? Yes. Has the slab been accepted by the city from the contractor? No. I think this is the gap in information that has most raised concern with the general public. Because the city, wisely, has not accepted the slab contractually, they still have the chance to address the deficiencies and have laid out an approach to do so: once the ice is removed, inspect the slab and determine the way ahead. Because the rink had ice on it and was going through code inspection, I (and I assume many others) had assumed that the city had accepted the slab in its current condition. It gives me great peace of mind to know that this is not the case. In light of this, they are properly stewarding taxpayer dollars. It remains to be seen what they'll do at the end of the day as ice rink slabs are very tricky. There is a reason they place the slab within an eight hour period (avoiding cold joints), so if replacement is not the final option, there will be risk in the failure of any repairs which they will held to account for, but I get ahead of the process. Why hasn't the media made clear that the slab has not yet been accepted? That one bit of information would greatly assuage many concerns.

Danny M. Francis (Eyepublius) said...

Hey, a $10 million project and a few hundred to fix/re-fix/repair a concrete slab section. No biggie, right Mr. and Mrs. City Council?

John Eisenhauer said...

Danny, the City Council Members and Mayor are not taking this lightly, and they've not said anything about a final determination regarding fix/repair/replace. It's premature to call them out at this point. Let's allow them to do their job. You don't know that they won't have the contractor tear the entire slab out and replace the concrete, cooling system, etc. With the public interest in this, the city engineer is going to make darn sure that he can guarantee that whatever decision is made is a solution that will work, as are his bosses. The fact that they haven't accepted the slab in contractual terms means that the taxpayers aren't on the hook for the necessary repairs/replacement, whichever it may be.

Anonymous said...

Wish you were elected Danny. Too many dismissed you, but the questions you ask are relevant.

Ray said...

Danny, wouldn't you think it falls on the contractor anyway? If it needs a fix, he/she better have good insurance. That's real easy to get. It is smaller than we all played it. Sure it sucks if they have to open up the floor and do t again. But it has happened before, and will again.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that the City allowed the arena to be iced and used if there are questions on workmanship.

Any Clerk of the Works, hired by the city, should have prepared a 'punchlist' of needed fixes prior to building being utilized. Someone dropped the ball in the project inspection/approval department. Any project finale and warranty inspection should not have allowed rink to be iced over and used if there was a questionable problem with the concrete.

Anonymous said...

The city engineer or representative from the dept is responsible. They just do not tell us. A good one is the Clinton St. project that did not have any excavation or sewer mains in the plans. Didn't hear about that one. Nobody lost a job or was demoted.

Anonymous said...

3:34 I Agree no accountability to the taxpayers . Lots of mistakes being swept under that bulging carpet.

Anonymous said...

Let us see how management is compensated by the tough talk from COW taxpayers.
Poor things deserve a 3% raise.