Hillview playing field woes continue with lawsuit

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, and states that the bond was to ensure that subcontractors would be compensated for their work if Overaa failed to pay them.


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Posted by Old MP
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2013 at 11:56 am

Sounds like standard operating procedure - I wouldn't get too excited over this. Subs can do the same thing on a homeowner's remodel project. They are just protecting themselves in the event that in the end they are not paid by the general contractor.

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Posted by Live Oak Avenue
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

The field, even this second time around, is still sloped. Neither contractor, nor subcontractor, should be paid until they get it right. The school district could easily file a lawsuit against both given the continued state of the field.

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Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2013 at 1:02 pm

And what was wrong with good old grass?

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Posted by Eliza
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Yes, LiveOA, if you walk around the track, it's sloping on the entrance to H. side. Also, the red 'foam' that makes up the tracks has dandruff - not a problem - yet. But here's what I find upsetting. There are signs everywhere telling all who use to field to "wash their hands" when done. So, why? And kids that age are that responsible to allow hand washing time before going to class, or home, or out to eat? Then there's the amount of water used for that….
It looks bad and imagine there will be fading down the road. Who made the decision to go grass-less?

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Posted by grass is inconsistent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm

What's wrong with grass?

Cost, over the life of the field.

Injury - injuries are higher on a grass field than soft, even turf.

Water, fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, etc.. all make turf a better, safer, less expensive surface for athletes. looks better, too.

As a bonus, film and photos of a team playing on turf look better. Film or take a picture of a football game at MA, and you'll see the difference. MA is on it's 2nd set of turf.

Patchy, dry, muddy, gopher holes (aka ankle busters) are a thing of the past.

Go find a grass field on the peninsula that hasn't been worn out by league and pick-up soccer games.

As for washing hands, what kids dport doesn't have basic hygiene afterwards?

I love nature. Hike all the time. What I don't like is a torn up grass field for kids.

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Posted by stats
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Dec 7, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Ridiculous law suit, but it seems to be SOP on big construction projects where rework is required. As for grass vs. turf, grass fields would be ideal if schools could afford to maintain them at decent level. Most kids who played competive sports on the former Hillview field or La Entrada prefer the Hillview field, as well as Kelly park, though Burgess and Lyle are very nicely maintained so it's a wash with them vs. Hillview. Add in the wet weather capabilities and no need to do lining, and the turf fields look pretty good in comparison.

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