Recent renovations to the kitchen area at the Tucker Senior Center in Harrison Township had some residents concerned. Township officials said work is ongoing.

Recent renovations to the kitchen area at the Tucker Senior Center in Harrison Township had some residents concerned. Township officials said work is ongoing.

Photo by Julie Snyder

Work continues at senior center after renovations

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 22, 2019


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The work done to improve the kitchen area at the Tucker Senior Center in Harrison Township has gotten mixed reviews.

Some have made complaints about issues such as a busted garbage disposal, freezing water pipes, unfinished walls and countertops, mismatched tiles, and rust and burn marks on a new stainless steel restroom grab bar.

But there are others who are pleased with the work, saying that it’s simply being blown out of proportion.

Either way, the work continues.

“It is disgusting,” said Harrison Township resident Lori Dennis of the work. “When I went there to check it out, I was shocked.”

Dennis took photographs of areas she felt were neglected or poorly done and presented copies to members of the Harrison Township Board of Trustees during their regular meeting on March 11.

“It’s terrible,” Dennis said. “Who made the final inspection?”

Harrison Township Supervisor Kenneth Verkest said work at the center is still ongoing, including repairs to the garbage disposal, which is one of the complaint items that was not on the scope of work to be completed.

“And it will eventually have to be replaced,” he said of the disposal. Also not in the scope of work was a rear door that has duct tape along some edging to stop drafts, and some of the tile work.

On the scope of work were the new countertops, which in one area show approximately half an inch of the base.

The township utilized a $60,061 Community Development Block Grant to pay for the work in the center’s kitchen area. Elgin Builders of Detroit was the lowest bidder with $97,000, and renovation work began last summer.

Verkest said the additional funds were taken from the township’s budget. David Nunner, an engineer from Wade Trim who has been contracted as the township engineer for more than 10 years, was paid $10,000 to oversee the project.

Verkest said CDBG grants are not funds applied for, but rather a tax taken by the federal government, which then returns a portion back to the community.

“We don’t request for this grant, and we certainly don’t request all the strings that come with it,” he said. “When we get the grant, we’re forced to spend the money in a very, very difficult and complicated way. So we try to reduce the scope of work as much as possible and do as much of the work as possible outside of the scope of the grant where possible.

“I would, frankly, love to not see CDBG grants as a part of our scope of work because it is a very, very difficult way to spend money,” Verkest continued. “But I think it’s also foolish to turn those funds down.”

Verkest said that oftentimes a contractor hired for CDBG-funded projects will hire subcontractors under a prevailing wage contract to complete the work. He said that while Elgin is responsible for the project, the company did use a subcontractor on some of the work.

“There is warranty work still to be done; they’re not done yet,” Verkest said.

Specifically, plumbing issues need to be addressed. Verkest said it wasn’t immediately obvious until the first deep freeze that some lines passed outside insulation.

He added that claims of mold in the kitchen are unfounded.

“Nothing is dangerous or hazardous,” Verkest said. “There is poor work on drywall, which should be fixed, and yes, maybe some caulking is missing here and there.”

Which is why the work is far from complete.

Verkest also said the grab bar is an existing bar that was simply reinstalled.

Senior Center Director Muriel Joseph said the kitchen area is in perfect shape, and there were only “small, itsy bitsy things” that needed to be taken care of, many of which have already been addressed, including work to find out why the parking lot lights have not been working in the evenings, a time when the center is used to host various community meetings.

Verkest said the lights, which were not in the scope of the original project, are automatic, and because the center is a separate campus from township offices, if they go out, officials are unaware unless they are told. He confirmed that Public Services Director David Axtell was on-site correcting the issue with an electrician last week. He explained that a circuit is tripping and they’re working to locate which one.

Joseph, who has worked at the center for 15 years, said township officials were was out at the center on March 19 working on the issue and planned to return on March 20.

“We have a nice senior center for a township of 25,000,” she said. “This new kitchen was built for Meals on Wheels. The women who come here to put meals together do a fantastic job. They’re here Monday through Friday and make 70 meals a day.”