With only a few weeks remaining before their scheduled return to classes, Bel Air Middle School students were barred from entering their school – courtesy of an errantly-erected steel crossbeam blocking the front entrance.
A project underway at the school this summer called for a re-roofing and extension of an existing canopy. It’s a routine facility maintenance and expansion project, but somehow, in the course of its construction, a beam to support the overhead canopy was placed inches away from the school entrance. The door opened, but only a few inches, leaving barely enough space through which a particularly lithe person may squeeze.
Clearly, the entrance was not useable by staff and students in this condition and required repair; which Harford County Public Schools communications specialist Lindsay Bilodeau said has already taken place.
“The steel was fabricated, and the modifications occurred,” she added.
The project architect/designer was called in on the same day the steel was erected, and issued a sketch to correct the steel beam-blocked door. The entire re-roofing project, including the additional canopy, will be completed prior to the start of school on August 29, Bilodeau said.
So students won’t miss any school, but how could the roofing contractor, Roofing and Sustainable Systems, Inc., and their steel fabricator sub-contractors miss such a glaring fault?
Bilodeau explained that the as-built drawings used by the designer indicated the front door height was 7 feet, when, in actuality, the front door is 8 feet in height.
Improvements to the entrance canopy at BAMS (along with a canopy at Wakefield Elementary School) were approved by the Board of Education on May 23 at a base bid cost of $115,000 – although that price may now be fluctuating.
“The cost for the modification is being evaluated and will be paid for from the contingency line item that was established in the contract at the time of bid,” Bilodeau said.
Another curious engineering feature is also on display at Bel Air Middle School.
A handicapped ramp and path run from the upper parking lot at Bel Air High School, down to Bel Air Middle school, but appear to have two steps in the middle of the path – apparently making it unusable for its intended purpose.
As Bilodeau explained, the handicapped ramp in the upper parking lot was never intended to be used as a handicapped path to the middle school, but only to serve handicapped visitors who wished to access the athletic fields. She added that a paving project this summer included a curb cut at Bel Air Middle School to better accommodate handicapped visitors.
“The upper parking lot at BAHS was installed in the Summer of 2009. The upper parking lot replaced the parking that was once available to BAMS on Cross Campus Drive. These plans were submitted and approved plans through the permitting authorities and the handicap spaces that are provided in the upper parking lot are designed to provide handicap persons access to the basketball courts, tennis courts and fields. These spaces are not designed for handicap visitors that are coming to the school. Those spaces are located right in front of the school, and a new curb cut was installed directly in front of the school this summer during a paving and resurfacing project to better accommodate persons with a handicap visiting the school,” Bilodeau said.
The upper parking lot and associated work, contracted to C.E.R., Inc., and the paving and resurfacing project and associated work, contracted to Frank J. Goettner Construction, are both complete and the school system doesn’t see a problem with the current arrangement for handicapped visitors at the school sites.
“It is our position that the work is in compliance and met the requirements when installed,” Bilodeau added.