Playing waiting game

Photos by Ron Leir/ The unfinished field house at Veterans Field.


By Ron Leir


It has been more than a year since the Town of Kearny contracted for a new field house at Veterans Field, Belgrove Drive and Bergen Avenue, but the project remains unfinished.

Also lagging is the Kearny Avenue streetscape job.

And, while the town held a dedication for its Brighton Avenue playground in early June, it’s still waiting for a late ordered swing set to make the play area complete.

The governing body got updates on these projects at a recent Town Council meeting from Town Administrator Michael Martello and representatives of Neglia Engineering, the town’s consulting engineers.

Kearny awarded the fieldhouse contract to UniMak, Inc., of Garfield, for $744,200 in August 2011.

When it’s done, it’s supposed to contain storage space for equipment, bathrooms, space for a concession stand and an announcer’s booth on the upper level, according to Mayor Alberto Santos.

The playing field just below the fieldhouse is used primarily by various town Recreation Department teams and cheerleading squads, and, when permitted, by independent leagues as well, Santos said.

At the Aug. 7 council session, Martello said the job was supposed to be completed by May 1 but “permit and architectural issues had to be straightened out.”

Another problem, he added, was that “the roof was too low but they fixed that.”

And the deadline was extended to July 31, he added.

“Now we’re shooting for Aug. 31,” Martello said.

Martello said that when he last visited the construction site, it was “a mess,” but, since then, he said the site has been “cleaned up” and “now the contractor is starting to get materials” and “the work seems to be in good condition.” Side panels for the metal roof are going up, he said.

“I said to the contractor, ‘I’d like to have this ready for the football season,’ ’’ Martello told the council. Because of the sloped terrain, “it is a complex project, but should it take this long? Absolutely not.”

One of the new benches installed as part of Kearny Ave. streetscape.


Santos, agreed in a phone interview. “It’s like watching grass grow,” he said.

Reached by phone last week, Sinisha Spasovski, the project manager for UniMak, said: “We are working as hard as we can to get the project done.”

“The main reason for the delay” is scheduling the subcontractors to be on-site during the summer when schoolrelated projects in other communities are priority work, according to Spasovski

“The painter will be done by Friday (Aug. 17) or Monday (Aug. 20),” Spasovski said. “By next week, the counter tops, toilet fixtures and the interior should be done and by the end of the following week, the roof and side panels should be completed and, by the end of August, everything, including punchlist items, should be done.”

Meanwhile, the Kearny Avenue streetscape (Midland Avenue to the Jones bridge is the primary focus), which was awarded to Buckler Associates, of East Brunswick, for $404,030, is estimated to be three months away from final form, town consulting engineer Kevin O’Sullivan estimated earlier this month.

Although the contract was awarded in May 2011, installation of the electrically-powered lamp posts didn’t happen until October and then the winter’s onset further delayed work, Sullivan said.

“The kiosks (decorative structures with advertising) are four weeks out (from delivery) and the contractor just got the sleeves for the (parking) meter heads,” he told the council.

Benches were only recently installed. Steel trash receptacles and new street trees, both in place, are also part of the project.

Santos said he believed that the piecemeal pace of the project was due, in part, to “financial issues” being experienced by the contractor, thus prompting the firm to be “ordering (items) in small increments, dragging it out.” Because of the job’s elongated timing, the town has put the bonding company “on notice,” according to town consulting engineer Michael Neglia.

At the 27,000 square foot Brighton Ave. playground, in a residential area beween Bergen and Wilson Aves., the Kenilworth-based contractor – Rich Pacerno Builders – has installed a rubberized safety surface for a slide and climbing boulder, along with landscaping, retaining walls, benches and trash receptacles for a contract price of $252,201. But, after the fact, town officials decided the play area is also in need of swing sets.

Now that a “color selection has been finalized,” O’Sullivan said, “the equipment is expected to be delivered by the first week of September.”

Then there is the dilemma of what to do about protecting the town’s year-old storm sewer line that runs across Schuyler Ave. near Hamilton St. and which lies over a sewer line owned by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission. Since then, Neglia said, there have been “numerous settlements.”

A televised inspection of the town’s line six months ago showed that an old brick manhole was “not in good shape,” he said.

Additionally, Neglia said, a town sanitary sewer line in the same area that ties into the Radley St. manhole was “found in the last six months to be in good shape until you get to the Passaic Valley line,” where settlement is occurring and the PVSC has begun emergency “slip-lining” repairs to its line, which is expected to take “about a month” to conclude, Neglia said.

But, Neglia said, “I can’t advise you to repair (the Kearny line) now if we’re not the cause of the settlements. … The problem is everybody’s pointing fingers at each other.”

And, Neglia added, “If we fix our line now, we may be back in the same position six months from now.” He estimated the repair cost at $140,000.

Santos suggested that, based on what the engineers have reported, it would likely be difficult to document the exact cause of the settlement issue “because of the fact that so many lines (including a Harrison line) that crisscross.”

Neglia said he “wants to meet with Passaic Valley” to try to get a better assessment of the problem before presenting a recommendation to the town.

So the town waits.

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