School district settles over faulty HVAC system
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The Roaring Fork School District Re-1 will receive a $500,000 court settlement for expenses it incurred to fix a faulty heating and cooling system that was installed when the new Glenwood Springs High School building was completed in 2008.
The settlement has been in the works for nearly a year. The district filed a lawsuit in Garfield County District Court on Feb. 27, 2012, naming four contractors and subcontractors involved with the project.
Under the agreement signed between the parties earlier this month, the district is to receive $350,000 from RTA Architects and Envision, the subcontractor that designed the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system.
Another $150,000 is to come from the general contractor, FCI Constructors, according to the final settlement agreement.
FCI retained the right to recover damages from another subcontractor, Reigles Mechanical, which was hired to install the system, said Shannon Pelland, assistant superintendent of business services for the school district.
The HVAC system was included as part of the larger $30 million contract to build the new high school building in 2005. The project was funded as part of a voter-approved mill levy and bond issue that included new school facilities in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.
According to the lawsuit, district officials were convinced to install what was billed as a “highly efficient” displacement system in the GSHS building, instead of a conventional HVAC system.
The project involved a new, two-level classroom wing, theater, music room, gymnasium, cafeteria and administrative offices. Existing sections of the older high school building were incorporated in the design.
Soon after the building was completed and the 2008-09 school year began, problems related to the heating and cooling system surfaced.
“Some [classrooms] were too hot and some were too cold,” Pelland said.
The school district eventually filed a construction defect claim in 2010, but there was never a consensus as to who was responsible for the faults in the system, according to the lawsuit.
In 2011, the district hired another contractor to fix the system, to the tune of an additional $750,000 in repair costs, Pelland said.
The district initially sought damages to be determined in a jury trial. The recent settlement had been the subject of numerous executive session discussions between the Re-1 school board, administrators and attorneys.
A separate lawsuit against RTA and FCI was filed by the school district in 2010 related to design flaws in the high school building’s music room, as well as flaws associated with the outdoor bleachers at the football field.
The district previously received about $140,000 in the settlement of that case, Pelland said.
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