School Board OK’s First Step in Further Review of LBI Grade School Pilings

Oct 31, 2018

The Long Beach Island Consolidated Board of Education last week voted to obtain a proposal for a geo-tech analysis of pilings under the LBI Grade School in Ship Bottom. The decision came after the board received an updated structural review of the school.

First-year board members William Fenimore, who represents Ship Bottom, and John McMenamin, who represents Surf City, were not present for the vote. The meeting was originally scheduled for Oct. 16 but was pushed back a week.

“In that analysis,” Christine Kelly, business administrator for the district, said of an update to the April 2015 report, “only a handful of pilings were visible. There are hundreds of pilings.”

A geotechnical report, according to NorthStar, a multi-disciplinary engineering, architecture, surveying, planning and environmental consulting firm based on the West Coast, is a tool used to communicate the site conditions and design and construction recommendations to the site design, building design and construction personnel.

“Site investigations for building design projects have the purpose of providing specific information on subsurface soil, rock, and water conditions,” according to the company’s website. “Interpretation of the site investigation information, by a geotechnical engineer, results in design and construction recommendations that should be presented in a project geotechnical report.”

The LBI School was built with a structural steel roof framing that consists of open web steel joists, steel beams supporting the metal roof deck and steel columns.

Kelly said the geo-tech analysis would allow for further review of the pilings underneath the school. There is no timeframe for the analysis, but the district is hoping to have it completed sooner rather than later.

Frank Little, the professional engineer retained by the school board earlier this year to update the April 2015 report on repairing the 1960s-era building, has been tasked with putting together a geo-tech analysis proposal. The cost of Little’s work to do that isn’t covered by the $25,000 the board agreed to pay him for the updated structural review report, Kelly said.

In August, Little, a principal in Owen, Little and Associates of Beachwood, presented the updated cost estimate of the April 2015 work to the school board using the same team of professionals for consistency. He revised it in September after some questions from the board. Still, the numerical changes all keep the project within the forecasted $5 million to $5.5 million provided to the board by Little in August. The district is eligible for 40 percent state aid of the total cost, so approximately $2 million, from the state Department of Education for the rehabilitation project. State aid for new construction is configured differently, according to Little, and the cost per square-footage isn’t comparable to real-world costs.

Without knowing what will happen in the future, Little has said he is confident the project cost would remain consistent for the next year.

In related news, the school board met with municipal officials prior to the Oct. 24 school board meeting in a bid to bridge the gap that many believe led to the failure of last year’s failed $18.4 million expansion and rehabilitation referendum for the Ethel A. Jacobsen School in neighboring Surf City.

“Everybody left happy,” Surf City Mayor Francis Hodgson said of that meeting.

That’s a far cry from a year ago when Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City officials passed resolutions opposing the referendum. Voters in Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City rejected the proposal out of hand. The referendum was approved in Barnegat Light and Harvey Cedars.

— Gina G. Scala

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