NOTE: AT THE MEETING FOLLOWING THIS POST I APOLOGIZED TO THE WRITER OF THE TEXT MESSAGE QUOTED HERE AND TO THE REPRESENTATIVE OF SAS WHO TOOK UMBRAGE TO COMPLAINTS ABOUT HIS COMPANY’S METHODOLOGY. I EXPLAINED TO BOTH MEN THAT I HAD NOT ASKED PERMISSION TO USE THE MESSAGE AND THAT I WAS CERTAIN THAT MR. KIRSLING’S PRIVATE MESSAGE TO ME WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE POLITIC HAD HE KNOWN HE WOULD BE QUOTED. I ALSO EXPLAINED THAT IT WAS UNDERSTANDABLE THAT PARENTS WHO HAD BROUGHT THIS ISSUE TO THE SCHOOL BOARD’S ATTENTION TWO YEARS AGO WOULD BE UNDERSTANDABLY DISTRESSED AT THE CURRENT ROADBLOCK SINCE THEY FELT THAT THEIR CHILDREN’S HEALTH WAS THREATENED.
It is now May. There are only two ways to make the possibly toxic mulch safe before the next school year:
1. We allow the Duluth community to do it for a very modest amount. or
2. We promise the moon to any contractors willing to meet our specs in one year’s time. They have all passed on $1.2 million. Maybe we can shake someone out for $2 million. or
3. We don’t let the children play on the playgrounds next year.
I lauded Cory Kirsling in the second of these posts. By the way he plans to get Minnesota’s playground safety inspector’s license in the next few weeks.
Before I share Cory’s take on the terrible predicament we are currently in you should know how fussy the Red Plan contractors were in fixing up one Duluth school playground. At Lakewood Elementary (with a relatively new playground) they simply removed the wood mulch and replaced it with rubber. That’s pretty much what I would let parents do to all our playgrounds now. Take out the rubber. Put in wood chips.
Now here’s Cory’s analysis:
This is the problem Harry….
The consultants gave a bid for what they were asked for. They were asked to give a bid based on what was asked of them.
Which was: how much to replace the mulch, removing the equipment to make sure that we had correct depth around the equipment, for fall heights or where the mulch meets the equipment for steps, or the slide bottoms (which just today I showed members of our group is ridiculous, because none of the playgrounds have a certain depth now, and is completely random everywhere)
We didn’t ask them to come up alternatives. Like pads on top of concrete bases, or raising curbing to meet new mulch requirements.
Or even inventive ways to remove the tire mulch like a vac truck, etc.
Also the board requested that a playground licensed installer do the work, because of warranty issues. Did anyone contact the playground manufacturer to see if we could just have a licensed representative on hand to direct the work? Or take in account that several playgrounds have older equipment that has no warranty. The consultants based all pricing on one playground schematic. That would be Lester Park, and off square footage. Which again includes sidewalks and green spaces. The administration or board didn’t ask them to do a site by site survey. So the consultants are basing all pricing off what was given them. Not what they went out and explored themselves.
I did explain all this before the consultants were hired.
Why nobody just asked the original playground installers to come in and give recommendations is beyond me. Skip the consultants and hire a engineer and ask that person to come up with the most cost effective method. Then have Dave Spooner [our Facilities chief] search out bids from companies.
Instead we had the consultants put bids out that nobody saw. Because they were posted on a wall at several locations. Not in the paper, or make a announcement on the news etc.
The district must overspend on so many projects it is mind boggling.