More delays for Bellefonte’s Rogers Stadium project

The Bellefonte Area School District Red Raider football team is set to take the field Aug. 23, but with work on Rogers Stadium still running behind, employees are working overtime to see that the project is finished in time for kickoff.

In an update at the BASD board meeting last week, Reynolds Construction manager Dave Stezin said the timeline is “still showing a lag in the original schedule.” He added that the company has “slipped” and is trying to overcome a number of challenges, specifically a problem with Joseph C. Hazel Inc., the project’s plumbing company, and a $106,000 change order for water and sewer services.

During the meeting board Vice President Bob Lumley-Sapanski asked why the district was issued a change order for water and sewer, having thought the cost was included in the company’s original plan. With employees working overtime and extended hours, Lumley-Sapanski asked why the project was still behind. Stezin said he is unsure of who the change order belongs to and said the project is running behind because the plumbing company is understaffed.

“There’s some ambiguity in the specification, and neither the plumber nor the general contractor had that in their bid,” Stezin said. “In order to keep the project moving with the relative timeline that we have left, I issued a construction change directly to J.C. Orr to do this work. Because there is no emphatic way of determining whether it’s the plumber or the contractor at this time, I had to make a decision, so I went with J.C. Orr because they’re the ones who are driving the schedule.”

Stezin said he is working to figure out who the change order belongs to. Although he said it’s “up in the air,” Stezin believes Hazel is responsible, but in order to keep the project moving, he went to the general contractor in an attempt to lessen the workload for the already understaffed plumbing company.

“I’ve been working on this for a month or more, trying to get it resolved, and I still don’t have an emphatic answer from the designers on how we’re going to handle this,” Stezin said. “It’s going to be a pushing match and a shoving match ... but I’m going to work to see that we get through it.”

Dirt and construction equipment block the view of Bellefonte High School’s Rogers Stadium as construction continues on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Abby Drey

The $7 million Rogers Stadium renovation project, funded in part by a $3 million grant, $3 million from the district and $1 million through capital campaign fundraising, began in spring 2018. The first phase of the project saw the installation of new bleachers, turf and paving for an eight-lane track.

The second and final phase construction aims to address the stadium’s support structures and has taken place over the past two-and-a-half months. Originally, this phase was scheduled to be completed on Friday, but has been pushed back to Aug. 12. Stezin said not many employees are willing to work weekends, but he said some are at the site working on Saturdays and extended hours.

“I’ve continued to ask them to work weekends and extended hours and they’re doing that to the best of their ability,” Stezin said. “Manpower is very tight this time of year, and everyone is busy.”

This is not the first time construction woes have jeopardized Bellefonte’s ability to host fall sports at Rogers Stadium. Initially slated to wrap up in early September, a discrepancy over the site work contractor and a summer of record rainfall set back Phase 1 in 2018, causing the Red Raiders to have to play on alternative venues for most of the season. Bellefonte was able to get the OK to play its final game of the season — the Curtin Bowl against Bald Eagle Area — on its home turf on Oct. 26.

Rogers Stadium is also home to Bellefonte’s soccer, field hockey and track and field teams.

A Light Up the Field event is scheduled at the stadium for Aug. 12. Stezin said its facilities should be in use on time.

“I’m still going to push them and try to keep my fingers crossed,” Stezin said. “Hopefully, we can make this happen.”