“You’re all aware that we’ve had some struggles” with Holland Park, Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon told the city council this morning, his voice laboring as he introduced the latest discussion of the latest delays or cost overruns at the city’s venerable park. But he also quickly distanced himself from the origins of the struggles: “The project was started before I came here, so, about 10 years ago, that’s how long some of these things take as we go through budget,” he said, with engineers initially hired 10 years ago to work the project. “They have obviously put more hours into it than anticipated,” he said.
Holland Park closed 16 months ago—in January 2015—for what was projected to be an 18-month, $4.28 million renovation of the 26.8-acre park ($4.7 million when a 10 percent contingency is included). The council in December 2014 had approved the contract with Contractor Tumbleson White Construction Inc. of Gainesville, and the engineering firm of Arcadis US Inc. The contract was to extend 420 days to “substantial completion,” or about 14 months, and 30 additional days “from substantial to final completion.”
That completion was to have taken place in March. It hasn’t, and it won’t, until July, possibly sooner. “That’s the latest and greatest schedule from the contractor,” Carl Cote, the city’s construction manager, said, pegging the opening of the park to July 4.
Delays started early on. Construction was to start in January. It started three weeks late, on February 2, 2015, though that was nobody’s fault: gopher tortoises had to be moved.
The agreement also included a provision for liquidated damages—meaning the amount of money the city was to collect if there was a breach in the contract, such as delays: “$1,000 per day for each day the project extends beyond Substantial Completion and an additional $250 per day for each day the project extends beyond Final Completion.”
At the time, the council also approved an additional $100,000—or $60,000 for Arcadis and $40,000 for Littlejohn Engineering—as an “extension” of an existing contract for engineering services related to the renovation.
That additional $100,000 has proven insufficient, even though those services were to have been used as little as possible. On Tuesday, Landon asked the council to approve an additional $50,000 for Arcadis and Littlejohn.
This morning’s presentation reprised a slide from a few months ago, when the administration last provided an update, showing the gap between the projected work schedule and the actual (delayed) work schedule. Cote explained that one of the problems was caused by a subcontractor that has since been fired, but whose work had to be redone. “We weren’t making much progress because we were redoing work that had already been completed,” he said. “We’re starting to ramp back up, hopefully to bring us back towards our timeline.”
The city hopes to recoup some of those additional costs through the liquidated damages provision of the contract. “Many times when you have a project that is delayed, that’s why we have liquidated damages, it costs us more money, and so then we pass on those costs to the contractor because of the delays. We can’t tell you exactly what that’s going to be.” The reason for the uncertainty: like the tortoises, not all the delays are the contractor’s fault.
“But we’re going to recoup some of this,” council member Steven Nobile asked. Yes, Landon said, but only if the delays can be ascribed to the contractor. It’s the city’s burden to demonstrate that the delays cost the city money. There would normally be a final payment to the contractor when the project is completed and all the change orders have been tabulated (assuming there would be additional change orders, though the city does not expect any). “When you get to that final payment then there would be a determination as to whether it gets charged back to that final payment,” city attorney Bill Reischmann said.
When it’s all done, the dog park will have been expanded, two baseball fields and two soccer fields regraded and sodded, a new restroom built. Also returning: tennis, bocce and shuffleboard, basketball courts, handball, a completely redone playground. And, possibly, a cell tower site.