Editorial: Good news, bad news for BMS project

Posted 4/30/21

Here is the good news: The Barrington Middle School construction project is 99.99 percent complete, and the contractor is finishing under budget by $4.3 million. 

Just a few years ago, …

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Editorial: Good news, bad news for BMS project

Posted

Here is the good news: The Barrington Middle School construction project is 99.99 percent complete, and the contractor is finishing under budget by $4.3 million. 

Just a few years ago, taxpayers approved a $68.4 million bond to pay for the construction of the new school. There were some grumbles about the price tag, but over time most residents realized the cost was not nearly as steep as other school construction projects nearby. And coupled with a higher-than-expected reimbursement rate from the state, the project has proven even more affordable.

News of a $4.3 million surplus is the icing on the cake, as officials now get to decide whether to use the money to pay down the bond principle or use the funds to pay for other work — some have recommended the school be outfitted with solar panels, while others would like to see the money pay for a new sidewalk along Lincoln Avenue that would make it safer for students walking to school.

Either way, it is a win for the town.

Now here is the bad news: The spring baseball season is underway, but you will not find any teams using the new field at Barrington Middle School.

The ball field and surround multi-use fields at the school were supposed to be available this spring, but it appears someone dropped the ball along the way. 

Late last fall, town officials warned that the fields were in bad shape. In fact, a report from the Barrington Department of Public Works detailed the deficiencies, and they went well beyond a poorly prepared infield at the baseball diamond. The DPW report pointed to problems with landscaping across the school campus.

When the contractor tried to sign off on the project, DPW officials balked and said more work was needed before the town took ownership. That was the right call, but unfortunately followed a series of mis-steps by the folks who were responsible for the construction of the athletic fields and landscaping.

Now sports leagues are left dealing with the fall-out: Lots of teams (baseball, lacrosse, football and soccer) and a very limited amount of field space to use. 

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.