Letter to the Editor: Accountability Needed at HKHS Building Project

The views stated here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the staff of this newspaper.

This letter was sent to Tom Hogarty, and all of the Board of Education members on Jan. 31, 2019
Dear Tom Hogarty, Chairman of Public Building Committee for Regional School District 17,
I have some SERIOUS concerns.
  1. I remember a meeting when I raised concerns about the panel covers on the boilers. It was also a concern of Mike Distefano and Rob Albert at the time. There were only 2 boilers installed and the clearances of the open doors was in question. You asked Doug “ in your professional opinion, what do you think.” He of course didn’t give a professional opinion, just an opinion so he could move on with the boilers, as we ALL know. You then looked at me and said, “ if you feel strongly about it, we can take it up with the errors and omissions, at the end of the job, we need to finish this.”  WHAT DID THAT GET YOU?? 6 wrongly installed boilers later.
  2. Just before I resigned in disgust, I attended a job meeting in September at Central office in which you and Doug, and HT [Howard Thiery] and Joanne [Nesti] and Eileen Blewittt were in attendance with most of the sub contractors. When the disappointment about the solar panels came up , I listened to the problems Shea was having with the manufacturer. I then waited my turn and shared that you sent me the submittal sheet for the panels , I forwarded it to a man from Haddam (Jeff Lord) that was at the same time talking with the manufacturer at the International Solar Conference in Anaheim and  I will attach his letter. We could have had those panels installed by now and for sure before March/April, at best. NO ONE has since contacted me to ask if it was a possible solution. WHY!!!! SEE attachment letter Solar panels
  3. I hope that the rebates for the LED lighting is complete. These rebates change and it is the new year and a new Governor. Hope we have the money, NOW!
  4. Accountability is what comes to mind, NOW. Who is accountable for these delays and LARGE change orders of well over $100K for the boilers and the contractor has walked off the job, and a loss of electricity from the weeks on the roof as well as ZREC’s too?  A closed swimming pool and a cancelled swim meet for the students, while the Supt goes on a paid leave in JORDAN, possibly other trips when his building project is in total disarray. He is the ultimate overseer and everything eventually goes across his desk. Why would a Blue Ribbon school need anything from Jordan, I ask?  Your comment about  “Errors and omissions” only result in Lawyer fees and extra costs, I roughly estimate $250K in unnecessary extra costs from Change orders or lack of. When all is said and done, by mismanagement. I should not have been the one to bring ALL of these problems up, but after all, I was asked to be on the committee so you had someone with construction knowledge on the committee.. We have CREC and HT running the show and the puppet committee. I waited months to see if the panels had been ordered and not until I asked did we get an answer? Same with the rebates and there are other issues not worth bringing up at this time, but CREC has screwed us to the wall and now look at the mess Reg Dist 17 is in.
Jeff Lord’s letter is attached
Chip Frey
Haddam,  CT
Jeff Lord’s letter:
Dear Mr. Frey,
Since my work schedule has me out of town and unable to attend the upcoming HK Board of Education meeting, I would like to provide this note to confirm certain events.  You spoke with me via telephone during the week of 17 September 2018 and mentioned that the project to add a new solar PV array to the HK High School was facing some potential delays.  Specifically, you mentioned that there appeared to be some difficulties in securing the specific make and model of solar panels designated in the project’s design.  I explained to you that I was going to be traveling to Anaheim, CA to attend the largest solar energy conference in the world, Solar Power International, from September 24th thru 27th and that I would be happy to look into the matter.  Since my company hires local contractors all around the country to install about 200,000 panels each year, I was confident that I would have no shortage of folks that would be happy to help me out.
On 22 September you emailed me the details on the specific make and model of the panels.  With that information, I asked the upper management at a company called EnterSolar to look into this for me.  EnterSolar is one of the premier installers of rooftop solar, in particular here in the northeast region, and they are very familiar with these particular panels.  After my inquiry, I reported back to you that EnterSolar had confirmed that the “standard” lead-time for obtaining these panels was 12-weeks.  Plus, they mentioned that since the quantity in question was relatively small (1,600) if they panels were needed sooner than 12-weeks, they might be able to “pull” them from another order.  I reported this to you and told you that I would, as always, be happy to assist anyone involved with the project if further assistance from me was desired.  You reported back to me that you had been informed no assistance was needed and that the panels would be coming directly from the manufacturer.
I hope this information is helpful to you and others.  I would be happy to appear at an upcoming meeting, or speak to anyone at any time if I can be of assistance to our town and our schools.
Best Regards,
Jeff
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