Editorial: Extra pay to overseer of field debacle? | August 7, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - August 7, 2013

Editorial: Extra pay to overseer of field debacle?

The Menlo Park City School District is in the midst of a painful lesson in how NOT to build an artificial-turf playing field at Hillview Middle School on Santa Cruz Avenue.

As we watched the installation of the bright and colorful field over an approximately six-month period, and then the numerous sports teams using it for practice and play after it was allegedly completed in March, the scene has morphed into messy piles of discarded turf, construction machinery and workers laying pipe. All of this is taking place because of the discovery by school officials that the field was not level. This problem was caused by improper installation of the drainage system and the use of the wrong base soil underneath the synthetic field. In early July, construction crews began digging up the new field to replace soil and reinstall the drainage system.

Now that the remedial work is underway, the district is being asked how errors of this magnitude could have escaped notice. That question is all the more pressing considering that the company hired to oversee the original project was just awarded another $50,000 to continue its oversight of the playing field's repair. Ahmad Sheikholeslami, the district's facilities director, was asked why the firm that evidently missed the original errors in the field construction project was, in a sense, rewarded with another $50,000 in payment. He said that with projects like the playing field, "... you can't always catch every little thing."

Unfortunately, the field problems were hardly a "little thing," and it is unlikely that most residents, especially those who live near the school and those who use it during school hours and for after-school youth programs, see it that way. We suspect they would ask: Why should the district, which already may have to pay some of the cost invested to discover the field's shortcomings, be willing to pay the oversight firm another $50,000 to oversee repair of mistakes it should have caught in the first place?

Mr. Sheikholeslami said the district is "tracking all costs" now, and has informed neighbors that work on the field, which was already taking place six days a week, is being stepped up to include Sunday. That more intense schedule still is not enough for the contractor to complete work before school starts Aug. 22. But by adding Sundays to the schedule the hope is to complete the job by Sept. 2.


Posted by Neighborhood Lookout, a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Aug 11, 2013 at 7:02 am

Not again! How much longer will the Menlo Park City School District community stand for the sloppy and irresponsible management of its school district? This latest issue is reflective of an administration that is "getting away with" one unconscionable act after another.