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The fix isn’t in

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Members of the U.S. military have enough on their minds while deployed overseas without having to worry about substandard housing conditions under which their spouses are living.

But problems with units at the Deerfield subdivision in the town of Pamelia persist. Women whose husbands are serving in Afghanistan said the homes they took possession of in February still have numerous flaws. The subdivision is located off Route 37, and homes cost between $210,000 and $240,000.

The project has been plagued by various glitches. Five military families had to wait up to three months to move into the homes they purchased due to delays on the part of National Grid. Developer Beacon Asset Managers, based in Jacksonville, Fla., paid for families to stay in hotels while National Grid finished its work.

But when they did move in, numerous construction problems were discovered. And when some of these issues were resolved, the families found additional flaws. A tour of two homes Tuesday by a Watertown Daily Times reporter revealed problems such as blatant surface cracks, gaps between walls and flooring, air bubbles, and insulation problems.

Family members are frustrated with the process of getting these problems fixed. They said that the construction workers left before finishing the repair jobs.

Todd J. Schultz is an independent builder from Adams who is now handling complaints. He said his workers had to leave some of these problems unresolved so they could complete additional homes and let other families move in.

It’s likely that part of the problem is that this entire project is being overseen by numerous individuals. There’s an adage that “Too many cooks spoil the broth,” and this is a good example.

A story in Wednesday’s issue of the Watertown Daily Times revealed a dizzying list of firms involved:

“The majority of construction flaws are in the first five modular homes installed at the site, built last October through February. At that time, subcontractors completing work reported to Stephen P. Jellie, an independent builder from Black River who was hired by property developer Wimbledon Construction Properties LLC, Maryville, Tenn.,” the story reported. “Wimbledon was hired by Beacon Asset Managers, the project’s leading developer, to install the modular units. Units are built by Clayton Homes at a plant in Lewiston, Pa., before they are shipped to the north country. The general contractor responsible for ground work is Cunningham Construction, Cazenovia.”

A good portion of the blame for this mess goes to National Grid, which has had problems completing projects on time at other sites in the north country. And it’s understandable that this initial delay put much of the rest of the development behind schedule.

But military families have paid good money for these homes, and they want their residences to provide a reasonable level of comfort. Aside from supplying part of our nation’s first line of defense, the Fort Drum military base has been a major asset to surrounding communities.

The families associated with Fort Drum deserve much better than having to wait month after month for their homes to be completed. Officials from Pamelia and Jefferson County should keep apply pressure to the contractors to ensure they’re keeping up their end of the bargain.

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