New contractor to finish building Harford school

September 15, 1993|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

The gates are locked, construction has stopped and a new contractor is being brought in to complete Church Creek Elementary School in Belcamp, whose scheduled Aug. 30 opening already has been pushed back a year.

Victimized by a contractor that has declared bankruptcy, Church Creek is the second new Harford County school to have its opening delayed this year. Fallston Middle, at Route 152 and Carrs Mill Road, opened two weeks late because of what the school system said were problems with its contractor, Triangle General Contractors Inc.

School board Vice President Ron Eaton said he could not comment on construction problems at either school because of potential litigation.

The board has set a meeting for Monday night to discuss strengthening its bidding process to eliminate contractor problems, board member Keith Williams said yesterday.

At a Monday night board meeting dominated by discussions of school construction woes, board member George Lisby called for a complete overhaul of the school system's bidding process. In addition to the two schools behind schedule, he said he was concerned that estimates to renovate Havre de Grace Elementary were off by more than $1 million.

The former contractor for the Church Creek project, Peter J. Scarpulla Contractors Inc., has filed for bankruptcy and a bonding company has taken over the site, said Harford County Councilman Philip J. Barker, D-District F. Calls to Scarpulla were not returned.

H. A. Harris Co., which built Ring Factory Elementary in Bel Air, will take over construction of Church Creek in about two weeks, Mr. Barker said. Harris is also building Country Walk Elementary, east of Route 24 in Bel Air, which is expected to open in fall 1994.

Church Creek Elementary, a 600-student school at Riverside Parkway and Church Creek Road, was to open Aug. 30. The school system announced in April that the school would not open until 1994, largely because of disputes with Scarpulla.

Mr. Barker said the school system assured him Church Creek Elementary, which is being built for about $6 million, would open in time for the start of classes next year.

Pat Benedict, who lives in Riverside and will be Church Creek's first PTA president, said gates at Church Creek were padlocked Friday.

"There seems to be this cloud hanging over Church Creek Elementary," Mrs. Benedict said.

Groundbreaking on the school was delayed about five months in 1992 because of soil tests for toluene, an industrial solvent. The site was given a clean bill of health after the tests were completed.

Rain last fall and heavy spring snowstorms, further delayed construction, school officials said.

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