Friday, November 4, 2011

Delay for Brumble’s Forest

By Seann McAnally
A new playground at Grandview’s Meadowmere Park has been plagued with delays and will not be finished by the end of October – a deadline imposed by the Board of Aldermen after an earlier May deadline was missed by the contractor. Now city staff are consulting with legal counsel to see what can be done to get the project finished. 
Update: The Board of Aldermen at its Nov. 1 work session decided against terminating a contract to build the park, saying it would delay the project even further. Kirk Decker, assistant city administrator, said the contractor believes the park can be completed in mid-December, weather permitting. 
Cobra Contractors, of Overland Park, in Oct. 2010 was awarded an $896,000 contract for construction of the state-of-the-art playground, designed to resemble a magical forest kingdom. But bad weather slowed construction, which was supposed to be complete in May of this year.
“The original completion date was May 20,” said Tony Finlay, parks director, “but the contractor lost 113 days due to weather.”
That created a domino effect, Finlay said, because Cobra wasn’t ready for sub-contractors when they were scheduled, and at least one sub-contractor didn’t show up for scheduled work.
“Of course we’re extremely disappointed with that,” Finlay said.
This summer, the Board of Aldermen gave the contractor an extension due to weather delays, asking that the park be finished on Oct. 28.
“Progress has been made since our last notice to the contractor, but it does not appear that the contractor will complete the project by Friday,” said Cory Smith, city administrator. “The city is very disappointed in the slow progress.”
Smith said the city understands about weather-related construction delays, but that that recent weather has been ideal.
“The weather has been great for construction over the past two months, and the city is not aware of any viable reasons for delays during that period,” Smith said. “Due to the lack of progress to date, the city cannot provide a completion date at the present time.”
Alderman Jim Crain, who serves as a liaison to the Board of Parks and Recreation, echoed feelings of disappointment and said the city wants to work with the contractor so it doesn’t have to start from square one with a new contract. That could delay the project even further. At this point, he said, the city is exploring its legal options.
“We’ll just have to meet with our legal counsel and see where we go from there,” Crain said. Finlay agreed.
“Once we’re done reviewing our legal options we’ll have a statement,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to get this done.”
Cobra checked out with good references when the city awarded the contract. The contractor has done work for the city before on some public works projects.
Smith said he is hopeful action can occur soon.
“The city is committed to completing the project and providing a quality project as expeditiously and effectively as possible, given the delays and the current status,” Smith said. “We will try to get everything but landscaping done this fall, before winter, if at all possible.”
Crain said it was possible city workers could complete some of the work.
Smith said it is preferable to complete the project without resorting to litigation, but that option is on the table.
“With the help of its attorney, the city is exploring ways to bring the project to a conclusion and reviewing the contract for legal options,” Smith said.
The Board of Aldermen discussed this issue at its November 1st work session.

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