Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What's Happening With Roosevelt Island's Good Shepherd Plaza Restoration - RIOC President Explains The Delay

Image of Good Plaza Shepherd Restoration Work Being Done Last Saturday

A Roosevelt Island resident sent the following message to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Leslie Torres:
I was flabbergasted to see in the "In Briefly" column in the November 5th WIRE that the new completion date for the renovation of Good Shepherd Plaza has been moved 8 months to May of 2012.  I then went to "The RIOC Column" looking for an explanation and expecting apologies to the community for exposing them to 8 more months of inconvenience, dirt and dust.  As you know, there was no word about it there. 

The delay on this project certainly looks like RIOC mismanagement. Don't the residents of Roosevelt Island deserve an explanation?
Ms. Torres responded:
I am sorry you are being inconvenienced by the construction of the plaza and want to assure you that we at RIOC are cognizant of the need to get the plaza completed and fully committed to managing the project to completion.

As you may know, the process for RIOC to undertake any construction project is set by statute. It starts with an RFP (Request For Proposals) from several construction bidders.  Once bids are received the RIOC Board decides on which bid to accept (usually the lowest qualified bidder), while also taking into consideration the requirements that minority and women owned businesses be favored, and a review of the contractor's construction history.  The contractor for the plaza had done work successfully on other island-related projects in the past, including z-brick repairs which is similar to the installation at the plaza.   All of these considerations were fully reviewed by RIOC staff for the plaza project and presented to the Board.

Once the Board decides on a bidder at a public meeting, RIOC staff then enters into a contract with the bidder to complete a project.  For the plaza project, we entered into a contract with the construction company to reconstruct the plaza, install new light fixtures, and install an effective storm drainage system.  The contract provided for a start date of July 7th and completion by October 5th.  Unfortunately the company did not start construction until August due to their employees' vacation schedules, and the initial materials submitted by the contractor for plaza construction being rejected by RIOC's Engineers due to poor quality.  Despite these delays, the contractor assured us that the project would be completed on time.  However, upon starting the project, the company did not provide sufficient qualified manpower to perform the work correctly.  For instance, the contractor installed the trench drains and concrete substrate poorly and such installation was consequently rejected by the RIOC project engineers.  As a result, the contractor's staff was replaced and the trench drains were ripped out and reinstalled correctly, at the contractor's expense.

The project has also experienced certain unforeseen conditions.  For example, upon excavating the site, we discovered that water had been infiltrating the chapel's foundation, causing a deterioration of the foundation. We also found that some of the plaza's concrete substrate had collapsed.  We decided to address these conditions by installing a concrete band around the building perimeter, and to replace the concrete substrate.  These tasks were added to the contractor's scope of work which entitled him to additional time to complete the project.   An additional 36 calendar days were added and the contract completion date was revised to November 10th, a date which will unfortunately not be met.

We also note that since the plaza work is weather sensitive it must be suspended during the winter months.  When the project shuts down for the winter, the entire plaza will be opened to the public except for a small staging area in the north west corner of the plaza.  The contractors will come back in March to compete the North side of the plaza and the sidewalk in the front of plaza.  We also note that the contract has a liquidated damages clause of $200 per calendar day (which in effect means, if the completion date is missed, the contractor is liable to RIOC for $200 penalty for each day the project goes over schedule).  However, the impact on the community use of the plaza will be that the entire plaza will soon be opened for the winter months and then a portion (approximately 1/3 of the plaza) will be closed in the spring.

As you may know, RIOC has worked with many contractors on many projects and some have come in on time and/or early (soccer field) and some have not (the plaza). We considered the possibility of replacing the contractor due to his initial poor performance, but found this would not be cost efficient and would prolong the completion of the plaza project even further.  We too lament that this project has not gone according to its intended time line and we apologize to the community for the delay.

Thank you for your email.

Very truly yours,
Below is the original schedule of work for the Good Shepherd Plaza Restoration Project.

As reported in this July 27 post:
The Roosevelt Island Good Shepherd Plaza Restoration Project is scheduled to begin on Thursday, July 28. According to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC):
  • Phase 1 covering the Southern portion of the Plaza will take place from July 28- September 6
  • Phase 2 covering the  Northern portion of the Plaza will take place from September 6 - 23
  • Phase 3 covering the Eastern sidewalk will take place from September 26- October3
I asked RIOC Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez what work will be done during these various phases but have not received a response yet. According to RIOC's Request For Proposals for the Good Shepherd Plaza Renovation Project, the scope of work for the project includes:
  • Removal and disposal of existing concrete and brick pavers, light poles and trench drains. 
  • Excavation and disposal for installation of new pavement sub-base. 
  • Installation of new precast concrete unit pavers and concrete curbs and sidewalks 
  • Installation of new trench drains with connection to existing storm drainage system 
  • Relocation of existing planters, benches and signs 
  • Installation of new light poles and extension of existing electrical service
Good Shepherd Plaza as of last Saturday looked like this.

UPDATE 11 PM - Roosevelt Island resident David Bauer asks:
Why would a capable contractor agree to a July 7 start if employees were on vacation in July? How could the basic drainage work have been put in place without being noticed by RIOC inspectors? Based on what RIOC has contracted for, at what point will the $200 per day damages take effect? The project excavation along the Good Shepherd foundations was less than one foot deep; where did the new indications of water infiltration appear that were not evident by an inspection of the interior?

As a side note, it is counter intuitive that in a period of high unemployment a contractor's forces take vacation in the middle of what is the normal peak work period.


Westviewer said...

The Empire State Building was constructed in under a year. 

Rebecca Knell said...

Any idea when the construction will be done at Capabianco Field and if they're planning on replacing the seats that was once there or removing them all together (as they love to do around here!) ? I really hope they plan on replacing them. Many need the rest stop and it's a wonderful spot to socialize with our neighbors. 

YetAnotherRIer said...

From start of excavation to completion it took 410 days. A bit more than a year. Also, 5 construction workers lost their lives. Imagine if we could build capital projects just like they used to 80 years ago. The 2nd Ave subway would have been done and over long time ago,

Westviewer said...

Aha, thanks for the correction.  That's what I get for spouting off the top of my head!

CheshireKitty said...

Rebecca - I was wondering about that myself.  I certainly hope they keep the seating, it's one of the nicer things on RI.  

bartonfinck said...

Imagine the construction of a whole new city of high rises and dorms when and if the colleges get their way with RI. Years and years of dust, noise, construction, trucks and traffic. Over the next 5 to 10 years, this island will be loud and full of noise and tons of traffic. But extra money comes along with the college building here, that is what RIOC is seeing. Endowments from the shools for the area of the growth. Where will those endowements go? To whom, and to where? These are all question I want to see addressed and answered...I do not hear many asking them right now. We whould not wait, as you see the HR deal has many hidden agendas and loop holes. DO NOT TAKE AWAY THE SHOPPERS BUS THAT THE ELDERLY AND HANDICAPPED DEPEND ON!!!  One day Mr. Kramer and Co will be old or their body will begin to fail them and they will remember taking away the shoppers bus. 

PeaceandPlenty said...

I remember these exact same comments being made with regard to Southtown (which still isn't finished yet), and before that, The Octagon and Manhattan Park.  Years and years of dust, noise, construction, trucks and traffic...which all have to funnel down one street.  And questions about what to do with the money and how it would be allocated then, as you are raising now. Saddest of all, there was a large loss of green space, especially at Southtown.  A magnificant community garden and age old trees removed.  And yet I am sure that the residents of these buildings are grateful for the opportunity to be here and share the Island with those of use who have resided in the original buildings through all the construction that has taken place.  And many of them have added greatly to our community.  Many of us have also benefitted from the added shopping and restaurants and it's hard not to notice the nice flowers and landscaping as you make your way home from the subway.  If you happen to be in one of those buildings and are benefitting from the years and years of inconvenience that some of us suffered through to create your building, then here's your chance to pay it forward.