Bathroom Facilities Could Cost Taxpayers at Least $256K, Committee Says

The Region 13 Board of Education was presented this week with three preliminary proposals to complete the unfinished fieldhouse at Coginchaug High School's athletic complex.


The unfinished fieldhouse at Coginchaug High School's athletic complex could cost taxpayers at least a quarter million dollars, according to a Fieldhouse Committee formed to oversee the project.

The amount would cover the cost of a bare-bones bathroom facility, one of three options that the committee is currently reviewing as it attempts to meet by Durham's Planning and Zoning Commission to complete the project.

Jeremy Renninghoff, the committee's chairman and a member of the Region 13 Board of Education, said the district's least expensive option would be to simply build a roughly 1,100 square foot men's and women's bathroom facility with a small area for janitorial space.

The facility, which would be built on an already existing slab paid for as part of a $4.99 million bond approved by voters in 2008, would cost approximately $256,000, according to estimates by the committee.

The committee, Renninghoff said, was leaning towards a second option, which would be to build the shell of the entire facility — roughly 5,000 square feet — but only complete the bathroom facilities while leaving the remaining space as "cold storage."

That option would cost approximately $537,000, he said.

"We feel that is the best option because we would put the roof on the entire structure and it would be done," said Renninghoff. "In the future, if the money became available either through private donations or public funds to finish the rest the building, than it can be done without having to remove the roof."

The third option — a completed facility — would include bathroom facilities as well as home and away locker rooms, office space for coaches and storage areas for equipment and would cost just under $800,000, according to Renninghoff.

The estimates do not take into account prevailing wage laws, which he said could increase the final costs another 20 percent. Board members however were unclear as to whether prevailing wage laws would be required on the project.

Initially, the fieldhouse project was to be completed with "in-kind" donations but when donations never materialized from the PZC to complete the project.

Although he said the board is compelled to have the project built by 2014, Renninghoff told his fellow board members that he is cautious about asking taxpayers to pay for the facility.

"I think a lot of this is going to come down to what kind of money is available and what the public is willing to go for," he said.

Kurt Bober September 09, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Can somebody answer this one truthfully. I've heard that the lights for the tennis courts and the basketball court as well as the football field were included in the funding so far. Now we're out of money, can't build an outhouse, and none of the lights have been installed. If in fact this is true, what happened to the money allocated for these items. Just a simple question
Jeremy Renninghoff September 10, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Kurt, I don't know about the lights on the field, but the lights for the basketball and tennis courts were part of the original funding in 2008. The lights at the basketball court are installed, but not at the tennis court. As to what happened to the money, it was spent elsewhere. Kerrie Flanagan did an analysis of the expenditures of the roofs/wells/athletic facility project. The athletic facility component went over budget, and $470K in leftover funds from the 2000 bond authorization were appropriated to do the parking lot as part of this athletic project.
Jeremy Renninghoff September 10, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Paul, If you want to know who I think are "sports fanatics", I can share that with you in private. I'm not going to start an all-out war on the internet. My opinion of whom I believe to be "sports fanatics" is not a condemnation of those people, but it will be interpreted as such. I just think their priorities are misplaced. If by listing the occupations of the members of the committee you were trying to show that they're "normal people" like everyone else, I think you accomplished the opposite. Even without that list, I still know that most of the members of the committee are financially in a different league than most folks, especially Middlefield residents, whose median household income is over $20K less than Durham's. Money was no object to those people, hence the 8-lane track, the FieldTurf, the grandstands, and so on. What should have been a simple reconstruction of a small high school sports facility turned into a huge boondoggle for which taxpayers are now being asked to invest even more money. I, for one, am not happy with it.
Kurt Bober September 10, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Jeremy, Thanks for the info. Your answer leads to more questions. Do I have it right, that the whole project was overspent, most of the work was not completed and then we spent an additional half million that the school district just happened to have kicking around, paving the parking lot. Wasn't paving included in the original contract? How much have we spent? What was not completed? What was voted to get done. Who was supposed to be held accountable and what happened? How can we prevent this from happening again? Just for starters.
Paul Haberern September 10, 2012 at 10:18 AM
Jeremy, You made a charge in a public forum and now you want to take it private? Where's the fairness in that? You are responsible for what you write and say, just as everyone else. I think that obliges you to answer in the same forum. As to the financial situation of the committee members, you write that you still know that they are in a different league than most folks. Unless this information has been shared with you, and I doubt it, you don't have a clue as to what financial obligations exist in the households of these people. There's a difference between supposition and fact. You may think you know but you actually don't.
Paul Haberern September 10, 2012 at 10:24 AM
It's a simple question Kurt but the answer is complex due to the source of the funding, transfers between accounts, etc. Suggest you contact the current RSD13 business manager if you want the financial details. Kerrie Flanagan might be able to explain some of the transfers back to BOE.
Just my opinion September 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Kurt those are great questions I am sure you will always wonder about. I have found that trying to get 100% honest and open answers in black and white are totally impossible. I wonder why after only having football for less that 15 years we needed a state of the arts turf field. Why are the girls softball field in terrible shape when little league has offered to help with them, why, in this economy are we spending money that we do not have ? why isn't there more over sight when it comes to huge amounts of money? If I remember right the monies for the bathrooms was supposed to be donated in part at least now here we go again hands out for more tax money. This is the year 2012 where many are fortunate enough to actually have a job. By continually placing more burden on tax payers it is making it harder to afford to live. The bills keep piling up but income isn't growing and for many it is actually shrinking. Stop this madness. Time to go back to the old adage no money no honey. another words we don't have the money well then we wait.
Wally September 10, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Wow! $232.78 per square foot for a "bare bones" bathroom that already has a slab, stubbed up plumbing and electrical, and a septic system? Why don't we save money and just order a nuclear sub from Electric Boat or a Rolls Royce with holes cut in the seats?
Jeremy Renninghoff September 10, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Kurt, To answer your questions: #1: The athletic facility project was overspent by about $13K. #2: Most of the work was completed, except for the lights on the tennis courts and reconstruction of the Strong field. #3: I think paving was included in the original estimate, but I don't remember this for a fact. I can look into it and get back to you if you like. #4: We spent almost $4.2M on the athletic facility. #5: To prevent this from happening again, the Board needs to carefully vet the persons being appointed to building committees, and ensure its actions are being supervised and reported regularly to the Board.
Kurt Bober September 10, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Jeremy, Thank you for your honest answer, unpopular as it may be.
Paul Haberern September 10, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Kurt, At the close of March there was a balance of $124,611 for the project. The BOE Finance committee pulled $53,808 back to a capital reserve fund and used the remainder to pay down the debt. Due to the problems with the Brewster wells $150K was transferred to the project from the BOE capital reserve fund so returning the remainder ($53,808) makes sense. The Building Committee had no input into the BOE Finance Committee's decision. As a matter of fact, in its final report the BC requested that those funds be restored and it be permitted to finish the project. That was a non-starter due to the upcoming budget season. As I wrote, it's complex due to the various sources of funds.
Scott Wheeler September 10, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Thanks for replying Jeremy, I will give you credit for answering on-line questions on a public forum. You are correct as I was at several meetings regarding the people that were really pushing this incredible mistake, they wanted "Friday Night Lights" atmosphere in their sleepy little town not knowing that show was about southern big school football where people shoot each other it is so serious. A Texas HS just installed a jumbotron so watch out in the future when certain people approach you. The fact is this; as I understand it tax payer money cannot be used due to the fact the bathrooms were part of the first "passed" vote and I use passed very lightly as it was a farce to begin with so now you must spend more money to get this project to vote once again. I agree that the building should be built correctly the first time and a basic shell for future growth seems logical but you run into the same problem because that "shell" still falls under the original plans that were voted on per capital funding accounting standards. You would not be improving but completing. Perhaps a former state rep will cut a check for something he wanted and had passed without proper public notification of the origianl vote. Good luck with this and I am sure you will have your day with me regarding future projects in middlefield coming up
Scott Wheeler September 10, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Paul, as I remember it correctly the wells for Brewster were part of that very large bond and that project I would assume took a much higher priority than a field. My son was going to Brewster at the time and work started his last year there two years ago. Those wells should have been completed before any dirt was turned over at coginchaug.
Jimbo September 10, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I for one as a voting tax payer will be voting NO for any more money to be budgeted for this project. And I will be watching the school budget closely to make sure they do not slip it in and will vote NO for ANY budget that includes a quarter of a million dollars for bathrooms.
Paul Haberern September 10, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Scott, You remember correctly. Wells and roofs were part of the project and they were done concurrently not consecutively as there was no overlap. Proposals, reviews, reference checks, selections, etc. all followed standard accepted processes. In fact, some bidders did not make the first cut after results from reference checks were presented to the committee. Due diligience at its best. I'm sorry that I don't have the numbers at hand anymore but as I remember it the roofs and wells with the exception of Brewster came in at or near estimates. Certainly within a reasonable threshold. Brewster, in comparison, went sky high and I doubt anyone could have foreseen those issues, especially given the positive situation at the other schools. From a budgetary view we were fortunate that state reimbursement was available up to a certain percentage but still, it had an impact on total budget. I believe it was two years ago that all three projects were begun.
Bob Johnson September 10, 2012 at 04:57 PM
There was 350K LEFT OVER in 2008 from a previuos project from2000. The BoE voted to use that $$ for pavement on the new project because that is what was budgeted for in 2000. So it sat, and sat, and sat for 8 years untill the BoE "Found It!". Now, we are faced with this mess that should have never happened, due partly of the actions of the Building Committe and the lack of oversite on the BoE part throughout the project. I actually went and sat in on the building committee meetings, and was told by the Chairman Bill Curlin that any questions I had on the project had to be submitted in writing and presented prior to any meeting if I wanted any type of an answer. How is that for transparency. Now we have another committee with Jeremy Remminghoff at the helm, O.K.? Whats next? I would think with all the talent in both towns of architects, project managers, general contractors, etc. we could solve this problem for a lot less than 240k;500k and I cannot even believe I am saying the 800K # for a bathroom!! I say its time for the superintendant to start earning her salary and get involved big time.
Knickerbocker September 10, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Let's turn the hands of time back several years. Wasn’t the original problem replacing an existing 6-lane track and replacing the tennis court – That’s it! Then the salivating began. How did it turn into this mega-complex and shell game of funding with no transparency with the public citizens - ONCE AGAIN. The tip-off should been when certain individuals claimed that public donations would suffice in the building of this bathroom facility. Doesn’t anymore remember the “rotting in the weeds” donation thermometer before this over –zealous project got underway. It was in front of the school facing main street. It was a dismal failure and talk about a testimony the cheapskate parents of this town who want everything but don’t put in their fair share. My suggestion is to close down the entire sports facility to be in compliance to the judicial ruling and not re-open it again until some of the biggest supporters of this complex donate the proper amount of TIME, TALENT, and TREASURE to build the facility themselves on the existing slab. I am sure there is some license contractors in this pool of resources and the kids who participate in sport activities will have much more free time to help since there is no longer any sports to play. I bet within three weeks you will have something built.
Just sayin September 10, 2012 at 07:18 PM
We have port-a-potties - it's not good enough for Ms. Cheney. She's the one bullying us to finish this when we clearly don't have the money to do it now.
Paul Haberern September 10, 2012 at 10:55 PM
If you are not going to answer here please let me know so I can plan to stop by a BOE meeting where we can talk.
Big K September 11, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Bob, your last sentence says it all!and well said.
Jeremy Renninghoff September 11, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Paul, There is a Board meeting Wednesday night at Korn, 7:30 PM. I don't know if there will be time before the meeting (I have a finance committee meeting immediately prior), but afterwards is fine, too.
Concerned September 12, 2012 at 01:54 PM
@Knickerbocker...no they lumped all of these projects into 1 question, which turned out to require a special act of our state legislature to make the vote in Durham a legal vote, since the Town failed to publish the notice correctly. By rights, each section of the project should have been a separate question. Ex: 1. to replace the roofs & wells at the various schools. 2. to replace/repair the track & tennis courts (which really did need to be done - they have been in rough shape for around 30 years due to lack of maintenance). 3. to build the football field. Nothing will change, and we as taxpayers will continue to be held hostage to BOE as they find new ways to pick our pockets. With decreasing enrollments, they should be looking at ways to at least mantain previous years levels of spending...we should not have to endure 4-5% increases every year. How about a significant decrease in spending for a change? If they utilized more technology, perhaps we could lose a few teaching positions, or maybe tie test scores to raises? There has to be a better way.
Knickerbocker September 12, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I agree "Concerned", the way they asked the question in this referendum was slated heavily in favor of this mega-complex by pooling it with necessities. They could have presented three incremental questions instead such as: 1) Repair Roof and Wells, 2) Repair Roof/Wells and replace the track and tennis courts, 3) 1 & 2 plus add a sports complex. Not much room for error here or misinterpretation. But they did not because they wanted it that way – it’s not that they’re stupid.
William Kovacs September 12, 2012 at 04:34 PM
You guys are SO right. Then they got real sneaky about it by putting it in the newspaper weeks in advance, holding a public referendum at public school and they really tried to slip it past everyone by printing the ballot...in ENGLISH.
Michael Doyle September 12, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Mr. Kovacs, I thoroughly enjoyed your sense of humor!
Rick September 14, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Let's just roll the toilets, lights, additional practice fields and everything else into another bond issue. They should have been included in the first one anyway. The last bond issue passed by the largest margin of any vote in recent Region 13 history, this one will do the same. And if it doesn't, the BOE still needs to build the potties anyway! Sounds like a win-win/second chance to finish what we started anyway....
Big K September 15, 2012 at 11:30 PM
At these estimated prices to finish this project, that must include GOLD plated fixtures. One could build a Mansion for that price, including purchasing the land with a stubed slab and a main Electrical panel Box.
Knickerbocker September 16, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Just because it's in English Mr. Kovacs doesn't means its honest and above board and there is nothing humorous about that especially to suffering taxpayers who now have to deal with the collateral damage of this misappropriated mess and this additional expense.
Paul Haberern September 16, 2012 at 03:49 PM
If you are not willing to post with your real name I wouldn't expect a reply from someone who does. I understand there may be occasions when not using your actual name would be acceptable but do not think it applies to this discussion.
Knickerbocker September 16, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Then why did YOU reply if you are "someone who does" or is Paul Haberem not your real name?


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