Trumbull High renovation work will continue into the new school year

Assurances that Trumbull High will look better than it has in years on the first day of school wasn’t good enough for a few Town Council members last Monday night.

The renovation, which has been ongoing for about seven years, was scheduled to be completed by this month. The project is being done by O&G Industries and A.P. Construction. But, according to Al Barbarotta, the town’s representative on the project, some work will continue into September.

“The opening day of school will be the best opening day in four years and the school will be the most complete it’s been,” Barbarotta said.

While the roughly $64-million renovation has come in under budget, some items that have been requested by staff, but were not part of the original plan, won’t get done because they will exceed the remaining $1.1-million budget. The work that is still contracted to be finished will be done after school hours and Barbarotta said it won’t interfere with NEASC evaluation in the fall. The school will receive its final certificate of occupancy once the roof ladders, roof access and smoke detectors on the ductwork are worked out, Barbarotta said.

“Personally, I’m disappointed we’re not wrapping this project up a year after we thought it would be wrapped up,” Council Chair Carl Massaro said at a council meeting last week.

Massaro said he visited the school the previous week and was disappointed with what he saw.

“I didn’t see a lot of action,” he said. “Frankly, I saw standing water and debris on roof drains, clogging the drains.”

The delay, Barbarotta said, is due in part to the fact that the project’s building committee had budget constraints, so it couldn’t give approvals for some of the remaining work in time.

“I’d like to blame it all on O&G but I can’t, it’s partly our fault,” Barbarotta said.

Town Council Republican Suzanne Testani questioned why there was still a problem with hot water in the bathrooms.

“Why aren’t we holding the contractor responsible?” Testani asked.

Barbarotta said the hot water works in the bathrooms, but a sensor installed on the sinks, meant to help conserve water, slows the flow, so the water takes much longer to heat up.

“It’s not working as quickly as people want it to,” he said. “But it means better water conservation.”

Testani said it’s still not working as it should, and the town shouldn’t have to pay to fix it.

Town Council Democrat James Meisner, who is on the high school renovation building committee, said the committee has been limited by the amount of money it was authorized to spend and, despite delays, the project is under budget. There is contingency money that the council can vote to free up.

“We don’t have all this money to spend on everything everyone wants,” Meisner said. “We’ve delivered a lot more than was in the original plan.”

The council requested the latest budget numbers of the project be presented at an upcoming meeting.

Town Council Democrat Fred Palmieri said that he was not critiquing Barbarotta’s handling of the project but that many members of the council are simply frustrated with the length of the project and delays.

“As you can imagine, the residents, Town Council and parents want to see it get done,” Palmieri said.

“We share that frustration,” Barbarotta said. “We get promises, too, and we try to get everything done and limit our expenses. We see the end zone here and we are trying to push to get it done. No excuses.”