The Sag Harbor School Board held its architect’s feet to the fire on Monday as he announced that the new Sag Harbor Learning Center, formerly the Stella Maris Regional School, will not be completed until the end of December. Board members hammered Ed Bernhauer, a senior architect with the IBI Group, with pointed comments and questions about delays, learning that aside from an initial schedule outlined in April, when construction began, no updated formal schedule was produced until late last week.
A summary of the new schedule shows “anticipated building turnover” to school officials will be Dec. 2 for the lower level, Dec. 19 for the main level, and Dec. 20 for the gymnasium, which is to be called Sage Hall. The summary notes that Sage Hall was “phase two” of the original project. Board members had a more detailed schedule, which was not provided to the press, that showed the “final cleaning” would be Dec. 31.
“We feel you can occupy the space while we’re finishing up certain things, so you can get access in there to begin to set up the spaces,” Mr. Bernhauer said.
Some board members appeared disturbed by the information. “How were you operating and managing the timeline for, almost to the day, two months?” asked Chris Tice.
Mr. Bernhauer said it took the contractors that long to come together and create a new schedule.
“Is that an acceptable practice in this business?” Ms. Tice asked. “It is not,” the architect replied. He later called the schedule a “worst-case scenario,” and said the building could possibly be completed sooner.
Alex Kriegsman, the board’s vice president, joined Ms. Tice in her criticism. “How can we have confidence in your ability to meet the schedule when it took two months to even get the schedule?” he asked. “I’m not trying to beat up on you . . . It’s pretty troubling.”
“We need to plan better,” said Yorgos Tsibiridis. “It always takes longer.”. . . “Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to happen this year.”
Mr. Bernhauer assured the board that “we’re pushing to get this completed.”
Board members also began to address the issue of vaping by students and others on school property. Jordana Sobey, the school board president, noted that vaping is not mentioned in the official policy prohibiting smoking and tobacco use on school grounds. The code of conduct, last updated in the 2018-19 school year, does prohibit e-cigarettes and vaping, and Ms. Sobey said there is also a general rule against it in practice. The formal policy, however, may not have been updated since 2005. She suggested it would be a good idea to make a ban official.
“It think it’s important that, given all the dangers of vaping, let’s highlight it and make it clear,” Ms. Sobey said by phone yesterday. “It’s an important issue to kind of nip in the bud as much as we can. It’s a very dangerous thing.”
The board members agreed, “in the interest of updating the policy as soon as possible,” to send it directly to the school attorney rather than the policy committee. Susan Schaefer, the board’s liaison to Mashashimuet Park, agreed to query the park board about vaping there, too. The board will return to the topic at a future meeting.