Almanac

Schools - December 4, 2013

Hillview playing field woes continue with suit

by Renee Batti

The problem-plagued project to construct, then reconstruct, Hillview Middle School's playing field may finally be finished, but the headache continues for the Menlo Park City School District, which is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed Nov. 20 by a subcontracting firm that hasn't been fully paid for work performed.

Joseph J. Albanese Inc. filed the complaint in San Mateo County Superior Court against the project's contractor, C. Overaa & Co. of Richmond; the school district; and the district's bonding company, Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America. The company is asking for $376,780 for labor, equipment and materials it was hired to provide but not compensated for, plus interest and legal fees.

Ahmad Sheikholeslami, the school district's facilities director, said the district hadn't received its copy of the complaint and was unable to comment. Overaa's CEO, Jerry Overaa, could not be reached for comment.

The Hillview playing field was the last project in the reconstruction of the middle school campus in Menlo Park. Originally scheduled to be completed and ready for use in December 2012, the field finally opened in March 2013 after problems detected during construction were thought to be repaired. But the field closed again after the school year ended last spring because the district discovered that it wasn't level and had drainage problems.

A new project that involved removing the synthetic turf, replacing the base soil, and reworking the drainage system was completed in late September. Mr. Sheikholeslami said in a guest opinion for the Almanac last August that the problems were the result of a subcontractor that "did not follow the architect's specifications in several details."

Mr. Sheikholeslami said in September that the contractor has paid for all the repair work, and the district will also ask the firm to pay the district's costs for inspection and oversight of the repair work as well.

The Albanese company's attorney, A. Robert Rosin of Leonidou & Rosin in Mountain View, said his client was the subcontractor that worked on the earth under the synthetic field, but didn't install the turf. Although he declined to go into detail, he said there are a number of disputes involved that led to the legal complaint, and added: "My client is owed money legitimately. (The company) would like to be paid for work done."

In all, the subcontractor performed just over $1.44 million worth of work on the project, according to a document submitted with the legal complaint. To date, it has been paid $1,064,240, the document indicates.

The complaint asserts that the Albanese firm is entitled to funds from the statutory public works bond filed by the Overaa company with the school district, stating that the bond was to ensure that subcontractors would be compensated for their work if Overaa failed to pay them, the lawsuit said.

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