Also from the Timberjay and sent to me by a friend. Bless them for risking JCI’s threat of a “slapp suit” and taking JCI to the Minnesota Supreme Court and winning!
Contractor to board: “You were ripped off by Johnson Controls”
REGIONAL – Playing fields at the South Ridge School need more work to be suitable and Johnson Controls Inc., which oversaw the project, should be held accountable, Gerald Wick told the St. Louis County School Board at its meeting on Tuesday.
“You were ripped off by Johnson Controls,” said Wick, who said he contacted JCI’s Randy Anderson about the fields and received no satisfactory answers for their condition.
According to Wick, the fields are littered with small rocks and the soil is like gravel, making it difficult for grass to sprout and grow.
Wick, a Toivola-based contractor, is bringing loads of black dirt to the ball fields in an effort to improve them, but said the $1,800 that the district has allocated for the project won’t provide enough black dirt to significantly improve the fields.
Playing fields for football and baseball as well as the school’s playground are suffering from a lack of adequate topsoil, according to Wick, who has donated some loads of black dirt in hopes of fixing the problem. The football field is being used this season and ball fields were used last year, but Wick said the students deserve better.
He told the Timberjay in a phone interview on Wednesday that he plans to pursue efforts to hold JCI accountable and require the company to pay for the necessary work to upgrade the fields.
“It’s absolutely pathetic what they did at South Ridge,” Wick said. “I want to get a hold of their financial records and see what they spent on the fields.”
Wick said the school district’s attempt to repair the fields isn’t sufficient. The couple of hundred yards of dirt he’s dumped on the fields amount to a “dusting,” he said. “They need a couple of inches at minimum to do any good.”
Funds for properly rehabilitating the fields shouldn’t come out of the district’s coffers, Wick said. It was JCI’s responsibility to ensure the fields were suitable and the company should be held accountable, he said. He plans to draft a letter to JCI and is seeking public support to pressure the company into meeting its obligation.
He initially brought his concerns to JCI’s Anderson. In their phone conversation, Wick said Anderson tried to blame the lack of grass on the district’s failure to water the fields. But Wick said the soil was too gravelly to support the growth of grass. Wick said when he pressed Anderson on the issue, Anderson hung up the phone. That’s why he brought the matter to the school board during its open forum portion on Tuesday, he said.
“I’m so disgusted at what they did,” said Wick. “I’m going to follow up and get on JCI to take care of this.”
In other related news, Superintendent Teresa Strong acknowledged water problems at South Ridge and Cherry schools, but said the water was safe for drinking at both locations. To ensure that water remains suitable for drinking, Strong said the district would test it weekly.