Leader Blues

Monday, November 19, 2007

TOP STORY >>Cabot, builder settle dispute over $29,619

Leader staff writer

The Cabot City Council has told Mayor Eddie Joe Williams to pay a $29,619 bill still owed Kullander Construction for work on the community center in exchange for the construction company not charging the city for additional work on the parking lot and sidewalks to make that new city building comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Financially, the city will come out ahead about $20,000 on the deal. The ADA work is estimated at about $50,000. The mayor told the council that Mikel Kullander will make the changes even though they were not in the architect’s plan in exchange for the city paying for work his company did as change orders that were not approved by the city council or the architects in charge of the project, but by Jim Towe, who was head of public works at that time.

Williams hired an engineer to determine what changes need to be made to the new building to make it comply with the ADA. He said officials with the Department of Justice told him the building must meet federal guidelines.

In addition to making the building ADA compliant, Kullander Construction will also fix problems at the community center at no charge to the city: leaks around the inside door at the walking track and downstairs back door; leak and damaged ceiling in meeting room; cracked caulking at front desk; broken cabinet in kitchen; broekn outside door handle in the gym; malfunctioning drain in women’s locker room at the pool; high-pitched whistle in the air unit; loud exhaust fan in the meeting room; non-functioning showers; leaking pool pump; non-functioning lights on walking track; air unit in meeting room that is malfunctioning; and the front desk light for which replacement cannot be found.

The council did not tell the mayor to pay the $44,761 still owed to architects Taggard, Foster, Currence & Gray. Whether the bill will be paid without an order from a court is unclear.

Construction of the community center was scheduled for the fall of 2004 but was halted when the bids came in $1.2 million over budget. That amount was included in the $28 million bond issue voters also approved in 2005. But to make sure there was enough money to build and furnish the center, some design changes were made.

The city hired Kullander to manage the project and to work with the architects to make the design changes. The mayor said those changes were the cause of the ADA problems. The site-prep work was for the original design and was not modified for the new one, he said. The angle of the sidewalks does not accommodate wheelchairs and to rework those will require reworking part of the parking lot, he said.

The center was originally expected to cost $3.5 million, including the site-prep work, which cost about $500,000. The low bid for construction in 2004 was $4.2 million, about $1.2 million more than the city was able to raise by diverting existing tax revenue to support the bonds to pay for it.

Carroll Astin, the city’s parks director, hoped changes to the design would bring the cost to about $3.8 million. The final price was $4.1 million.