Designer: Deerfield’s micro-managing raised school roof costs

  • Construction continues on the roof of the Deerfield Elementary School through August. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

For the Gazette
Sunday, August 28, 2016

DEERFIELD — In response to “blackmail” accusations leveled by town officials at the design firm working on the elementary school roof project, Gene S. Raymond Jr., president of Raymond Design Associates, Inc., said the town has micro-managed the project, forcing the firm to charge more money for its consulting.

Recently, the firm amended its original contract with the town, requiring payment for an extra potential 10 meetings to the original 15.

Select Board member Henry “Kip” Komosa has said board members signed the amendment under duress, feeling they were being “blackmailed.”

Half the project is funded through the state. However, the town is responsible to make sure all bills get paid. To be reimbursed, the town needs to submit paperwork signed by the design firm.

Komosa said the board thought if it didn’t sign, the firm would stop working altogether. That would mean paperwork wouldn’t be signed, and the town wouldn’t be reimbursed. During a recent Select Board meeting, Town Administrator Douglas Finn projected the amendment change would cost the town about $18,000.

Raymond said the firm has worked to accommodate the town throughout the project and has a respected reputation throughout the state. He said calling his company’s requests for a simple contract amendment to cover additional site visits “blackmail” is entirely inaccurate.

He also refuted the idea that the firm threatened to stop working if the amendment wasn’t signed.

Select Board members said meetings weren’t productive, which is why the firm had to amend the contract.

In response to that, Raymond said when originally estimating costs, the firm based its numbers on past re-roofing projects, including one in Northampton.

For this project, however, costs exceeded the proposal because town officials used up the original 10 meetings discussing details other towns weren’t as concerned about.

“This detailed oversight and review process required many unforeseen trips to attend meetings, present options and secure approvals,” he said, noting that the town has worked hard to keep costs down. “The contract amendment that we presented to the town simply provided a mechanism for us to invoice for any of the aforementioned meetings, and only then on a per-visit basis, as necessary.”

He also said the project will be completed ahead of schedule.