Sag Harbor School District Architects Specify Safety Issues With Memorial

The Michael Semkus work-out station is covered in caution tape behind Pierson Middle/High School. ELIZABETH VESPE

The current location of the Michael Semkus memorial workout station at Pierson Middle-High School does not meet current safety standards, according to the IBI Group, the architectural firm that works for the Sag Harbor School District.

However, Dave Harvey of D&D Harvey Architects, the father of Drew Harvey, who has been spearheading the project, told the Sag Harbor Board of Education on Monday that they had complied with all safety regulations detailed by the manufacturer of the equipment.
Ed Bernhauer, an architect with the IBI Group, said their biggest concern was a violation in what they call the “use zone.”

The two pieces of equipment — the triple pull-up bar and parallel bars — are overlapping each other, with only 6 feet, 6 inches between the structures, Mr. Bernhauer said, adding that the distance needs to increase by a minimum of 5 feet, 6 inches for safety reasons.
The use zone is identified by the manufacturer as the area where a child may fall off the equipment.

“Those use zones are not allowed to overlap … those two use zones are currently overlapping. Our recommendation is to move one of the structures a minimum of 5 feet, 6 inches,” Mr. Bernhauer said.

The triple pull-up bar measures 15 feet long, and the parallel bar measures 12 feet long.
In addition, Mr. Bernhauer said 24 inches of concrete is required in each of the footings of each piece of workout equipment. However, just 21 inches of concrete were found holding down the parallel bars.

“I’m not sure what you’ve investigated,” Mr. Harvey said. “But I was there for the installation and observed that all of the footings were 36 inches of concrete.”

Mr. Harvey said the licensed contractors were handed a stop-work order as they were mixing the cement for the final footings, which would put the footings above the minimum 24 inches.

“We were stopped while mixing the cement. So, they are not in full,” he said of the footings.

In addition, Mr. Harvey, who has worked on projects in the district including the greenhouse at the middle school, said he’d given the School Board all of the specifications directly from the equipment manufacturer.

“Ultimately, it comes down to what our insurer will cover,” School Board President Jordana Sobey explained.

Superintendent Katy Graves said she had to deliver the stop-work order because the school attorney and insurance company advised her to.

“Everybody wants to see this completed as soon as possible,” board member Alex Kriegsman said. “We have to satisfy our insurance company. We’re a school district and we have liability and insurance issues. It’s not for anyone here at this table to decide.”

If the insurance company refuses to cover the workout station, using plans supplied by IBI Group, the district will have to go out for bid to local contractors for the installation modifications.

Mr. Harvey said since the equipment is owned by his son’s nonprofit, Dawgpatch Bandits, the insurance company will have to provide documentation that the workout station is unsafe prior to removal or rearrangement of the station.