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Cole school neighbors file suit vs. town

March 9, 2011

School construction os being blamed for cracks in the neighbors' cielings and walls.

By DAVID PEPIN

The lawyer for two homeowners who claim their houses have been damaged by construction of the new Cole Middle School is awaiting responses from the town and the East Greenwich School District to their claim.

David E. Maglio, lawyer for Christopher and Susan Lamendola of 50 Sarah’s Trace and Thomas Hogan and Cynthia Peloso of 40 Sarah’s Trace, says site work for the new school, scheduled to open in April, has caused cracks throughout their homes. Maglio filed the suit Feb. 8 in Kent County Superior Court.
The suit names six parties: Finance Director Kathleen Raposa, representing the town; the East Greenwich School Department; Strategic Building Solutions, project manager for the $52 million school bond passed in 2008 that led to construction of the school; Paul B. Aldinger and Associates, geotechnical firm for the project; Gilbane Building Company Special Projects Group, general contractor; Fleet Construction Company, subcontractor, which went into receivership last April; and Manafort Brothers, which replaced Fleet on the project.
Town Solicitor Peter Clarkin said the suit has been passed to the town’s insurers, who are preparing a response. School Superintendent Victor Mercurio, citing ongoing legal proceedings, refused to comment.
The two couples have been in constant contact with town and school officials since late 2009, when the contractors began using a vibrating roller to level the site in preparation for construction. They first complained of noise shaking windows and fixtures in their homes, then of cracks inside and outsider their homes.
While work is winding down on the site, “There is evidence that the damage has progressed over the winter,” said Maglio, who fears additional problems with site work when the current Cole building is eventually demolished.
The suit seeks payment for repairs to the homes, punitive damages, and compensation for their loss of value on the open market.
“We want further acknowledgement of the process that decision makers will use in finding methods to eliminate the disturbances, noise and vibration going on. At the appropriate time, we want the damage assessed and repaired, and we’re concerned that even if the repairs are done, their houses will be stigmatized,” Maglio said.

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