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Toronto reacted well to project setbacks

April 7, 2012
The Herald-Star

Like almost every large construction project involving public and private enterprise, setbacks are inevitable. What makes the difference between success and disaster is whether those involved look upon roadblocks as a fact of life and plan accordingly.

The city school district was challenged by two such setbacks when bids for construction of its new district building to house grades six through 12 and renovation of the high school stadium came in over the construction manager's projected budget. The district had no choice but to go back to the drawing board and make cuts that wouldn't affect the overall scope of the projects.

That's the bad news, and with stories of some school districts beginning building projects they couldn't afford to finish in the news, it's only natural citizens who voted for and are funding a substantial portion of the new building and stadium renovation should be concerned.

The good news is Toronto School District officials anticipated such setbacks and had contingency plans in place.

They acted quickly and decisively in concert with the other players, including the architects and project manager, to find solutions to cut costs that will have virtually no affect on both projects' time frames for construction, completion and quality.

The changes made are mostly cosmetic and will result in substantial savings that will allow the projects to proceed in a timely manner, on budget and on time, according to school officials.

We've all read of projects financed by the public that became boondoggles because of poor planning, lack of foresight and inept management. Citizens should rest assured those involved in the Toronto project have backup plans for virtually every phase of construction and any potential problems that might arise, barring acts of God, according to district officials.

We've been impressed by the district's deftness in responding quickly and efficiently to circumvent the inevitable obstacles that sometimes happen with large scale projects. We also are impressed with the district's transparency in letting the press and public know what's going on and how they are going to remedy the obstacles.

From what we have seen, we are confident in officials' proclamations that both the stadium and district building will be finished on time and budget accordingly. At the same time, we also support and expect citizens to take interest in the progress of construction and demand excellence from those they have entrusted with these projects.

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