School Board gives nod on lighting project; pursues damages
The Tangipahoa Parish School Board granted a certificate of substantial completion for their lighting project at Independence High School’s football field, but the district will also seek remedies to the field damage officials say happened on the contractor’s watch.
After a lengthy and often tense discussion, the Board agreed to follow procedure and grant the certificate, a legal trigger that allows subcontractors to submit their bills for payment on the job. District CFO Bret Schnadelbach said there is a punch list of items yet to be completed, so the parish will withhold that payment until the remaining items are finished.
That was of little solace to Independence-area board member Robin Abrams who wanted to know who would be held accountable for getting the field back in proper condition. Three weeks ago, Louisiana High School Athletic Association officials stopped play at the start of the game and forced the Tigers to move to another site, as their home field was unacceptable for game play.
Abrams said Indy’s Tiger Stadium has a storied past and list of caretakers who kept that field in “immaculate” condition over the last 30 years. She said former coaches like Charles Baglio and Keith Carona were meticulous guardians of that turf and she worries that Coach Scott Shaffett’s squad would be left with anything less than the field conditions they’ve always enjoyed.
Schnadelbach said one advantage to granting the ertificate of substantial completion is getting the team back on their field and letting them use the lights which were a major purchase for the program. Abrams said that will not matter if LHSAA refuses to let Indy play there.
Superintendent Melissa Stilley said her office will reach out to LHSAA for confirmation that the field meets minimum specs. Abrams and several other members of the board also voiced concern that IHS has lost gate revenue and concession sales during this season.
School Board attorney Christopher Moody said those facts may be true; however, if the board failed to follow procedures and grant substantial completion, it would open the district up to litigation. Moody assures the board that his office is working within their construction project procedures to remedy any difficiencies without jeopardizing the parish’s position in the matter.
Stilley assure the board she will keep them appraised of the situation, and in an effort to proceed without putting the district at risk of litigation, the board voted unanimously to approve the certificate.