Down the road from troubled Kaiserslautern project, unfinished playground sits idle
Stars and Stripes March 11, 2008
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The Kaiserslautern Military Community Center isn’t the only base construction project afflicted with rising costs, delays and contract disputes at Ramstein.
Three Defense Department schools playgrounds are having their share of problems, too, albeit on a smaller scale than the problem-plagued mall-hotel down the road.
The playgrounds were supposed to be finished before the current school year, but a dispute with the German company has left the $745,234 project unfinished and facing a potentially bigger price tag.
Now, the project won’t be done until sometime before next school year, and the Air Force does not know how much more it will cost to finish the project.
At first glance, much of the work on the playgrounds at Ramstein Intermediate School, Ramstein Elementary and Vogelweh Elementary schools appears to be finished. But fencing has been put up to prevent children from playing on the grounds, which officials deem as unsafe.
Terese Sarno, area union representative for the Federal Education Association, said teachers and parents are glad the state agency removed the contractor from the project, but it is unfortunate that the schools still don’t have their playgrounds.
“It does create a hardship,” she said. “That’s a whole year without the new playground (for Ramstein Intermediate) for the children.”
German state construction agency Landesbetrieb Liegenschafts und Baubetreuung, or LBB, terminated the contract with the Idar-Oberstein-based P.A. Budau firm in January because it installed the wrong safety matting, according to Air Force officials. The company had three weeks to remove its equipment from the sites, Ramstein Intermediate Principal Bonnie Bowen-Hannan wrote in a Feb. 25 message to parents.
Scott Vincent, chief of engineering and construction for the 435th Civil Engineer Squadron, wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes that an Air Force inspector discovered the contractor did not use the rubberized tiles specified in the contract. Work had started on the project last June.
Students at Ramstein Elementary and Vogelweh Elementary now go to nearby community play areas for recess. Students at Ramstein Intermediate School must walk a little farther to a base park.
The Air Force says it took so long to terminate the contract and start looking for a new firm because of contract regulations. The contractor has already been paid about $505,000, but it is unclear whether that money would be refunded. The Department of Defense Dependents Schools Europe is paying for the playgrounds.
“It’s frustrating for everyone involved,” said Gene Meyer, education business manager for the Kaiserslautern school district.