School has started for both local school districts, but for one local school, getting into a renovated building was a task in itself.
In early August staff members of West Las Vegas Family Partnership were finally able to move into their renovated building after numerous delays in the project that was originally set to be finished in May.
The delay prompted board member Henry Abeyta to publicly question whether future projects should be awarded to local contractor Franken Construction.
Phillip Martinez, a Franken Construction project manager, said the school started in its renovated building in time for the new year, despite the delays.
He said the delays were caused by subcontractor issues. Additionally, he said, they needed time to clear up other issues as per the state fire marshal and local fire department. The contract also included the demolition of the old facility on the corner of Moreno Street and South Gonzales. The renovation took place at the former middle school and federal programs building that was built in the 1950s.
The price tag for the demolition and renovation was roughly $1.7 million.
“We couldn’t demolish the other building until we finished the renovation,” Martinez said during a telephone interview Tuesday morning. “It wasn’t until the renovation was completely ready that we could move forward and demolished the other one.”
The demolition of the existing facility started on July 30.
Martinez said the electric subcontractor, Builders Electric out of Santa Fe, was having manpower issues. But Builders Electric owner Dave Duran said that wasn’t the case. Duran said he received the passed final inspection for the electric portion of the renovation on June 19, and the only additional thing needed was the fire inspection. Duran said the delay in the fire inspection was due to the state fire marshal not being able to inspect the building because of a health issue. He said the fire inspection was eventually completed on Aug. 5.
Martinez said Builders Electric was having manpower issues and was overwhelmed with other projects. But Duran disputes that.
“It wasn’t a manpower issue,” Duran said. “We were there for the duration of the job; we can only do our work when the other trades do their work too.”
He said one issue that arose was a chiller being purchased that used more electrical load than the original plans called for. Duran said they had to address this issue as well as others.
“We performed when we had to,” Duran said. “It is unfair to say the electricians were holding up the job; that isn’t right.”
West Las Vegas School District Superintendent Gene Parson said there were very minor issues that arose that have since been resolved. He said that although the original agreement was that the renovation be done by May, they agreed to extend it since no students would be there during the summer months. He added that all the fire marshal and fire department issues have since been addressed.
Martinez said that despite the delays, school staff was able to move into the renovated facility in July when they received a temporary certificate of occupancy.
“They were able to move in and be ready for school,” Martinez said. “It was close, very close, but it was ready for when school started.”
Parson said Franken Construction has since taken care of all the minor issues, including replacing a cracked tile in the ceiling and a drain that was slightly above the floor.
“Yes, there were some issues and things did not go as smoothly as they could have,” Martinez acknowledged. “West Las Vegas has been a good customer, and we will always give them our attention,” Martinez said.
During a board meeting earlier this month, Abeyta said delays like this have a huge impact on his decisions on whether to award the local contractor other projects in the future.
“I have visited with the students; they are happy with their new facility,” Parson said. “It has been good for students and staff; it is nice. The work done there is very good work for an old building; it looks and smells new.”