Health center project delay questioned

By Caryn Rosenberg

Responsibility for the delay in the University Health Center completion remains unclaimed, as the contractor for the project denies any wrongdoing.

The completion date for the project was December 1991, but delays have postponed it to Spring 1993.

NIU administrators said the project was the Illinois Capital Development Board’s responsibility, but CDB said the contractor, Brand Asbestos Control Company in Park Ridge, caused the delay.

Mike Penick, group president at Brand, said there were no problems out of the ordinary causing a delay except cold weather.

“In November of last year, we had extremely cold weather,” he said. “We use a lot of water and when it’s freezing, you can’t work.”

As a result, Penick said the project fell a few weeks behind.

“We lost between two and three weeks to the weather last year,” he said. “Those two to three weeks brought us into the holidays, which basically is a time when it’s hard to get people to work.”

Penick also said the abatement took longer than expected because the project itself was difficult. “It was an extremely tough project,” he said. “We were in a lot of small rooms with a lot of separate containments.”

However, in a letter addressing the project, NIU Architect Roland Schreiber stated, “The contractor acknowledged that they were behind schedule due to labor and management problems.”

In addition, Mia Jazo, a spokesperson from CDB, said Brand had considered buying out their contract because “they realized that they were not going to make very much money, if any.”

Schreiber stated, “The contractor wanted to forego completing his Punch List (a list of “touch-up” items compiled at the end of a job), and in return wanted to offer a reduction in his contract amount.”

However, Penick said he was not aware of any attempt to buy out or reduce the contract amount. “I don’t know a thing about it,” he said.

Penick also said he was not aware of the recontaminating of two floors in the health center during the abatement process.

“I’ve only been here about five months and don’t really know the details of the project,” he said.