Renovations at Holland Park were supposed to end in March.
The city of Palm Coast is kicking construction contractor Tumbleson White Construction, Inc. out of Holland Park, and taking over renovations there itself.
The contractor has fallen far behind schedule with work at the park, City Manager Jim Landon said in a City Council workshop Aug. 30: The initial end date was supposed to have been in March. Renovation work at Holland Park began in February 2014.
“We’ve gone through the steps of giving this contractor plenty of opportunity to do this job,” Landon said. “Whether it’s just not capable, or not putting the resources, who knows, but it doesn’t matter to me anymore because it’s not doing the job.”
As for goals for the project at this point, Landon said: “Goal number one is we want to get it done. Goal number two is we want to get this contractor, Tumbleson, off the site as quickly as possible.” The city will let Tumbleson White complete bits of the project that are currently underway, but will then take over with city construction crews, Landon said.
The third goal, Landon continued, is to make sure all subcontractors are paid, and the last goal is to say within budget.
“We’re working towards making all those happen,” he said.
The city put Gainesville-based Tumbleson White on notice weeks ago to put together a recovery schedule to make up lost time, Landon said, and also put the bonding company on notice that if the work wasn’t done within that time frame, the city would take further action.
Tumbleson White responded by putting together a schedule with a completion date of Aug. 12. A city of Palm Coast “Week In Review” document listed construction at Holland Park as 78% complete as of Aug. 24.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t want another date,” Landon said, “So we’ve had our attorney draft a letter to the bonding company that says we’re taking over the project.”
The city is also handling complaints from subcontractors who have said they haven’t been properly paid, Landon said.
“We are working directly on making sure that they can get paid,” he said. “A lot of them are local contractors. These are people that their kids go to our schools, they’re on our sports teams — they rely on this kind of work to put food on the table. … So we’re getting involved in that.”
Mayor Jon Netts agreed. “The city should back them, support them, do anything we can to see that they are being paid,” he said. And, he said, “Our residents have dealt with this delay long enough. But a little more delay, well, it’ s not the end of the world, but I want to make sure we’re under budget, I want to make sure Tumbleson is not walking away with unwarranted profit. ... They’re the ones at fault here, they’re the ones that need to feel a little bit of pain. Not our residents, not our budget, and absolutely not our local subcontractors.”
Landon said he is “very confident” the city can finish the work without going over budget.
The total approved expenditure for Holland Park renovations is about $4.7 million. The city has about $1.2 million in its budget that hasn’t been spent, and will use that to finish the project and pay subcontractors, Landon said.
Meanwhile, the city is charging Tumbleson White $1,000 every day in liquidated damages, he said.
“We’re putting all the resources we can to get this done,” Landon said. “We are going to try to get it open. We may even not even have all of it done, but if we can get it open, get certain things done, get kids playing on the playground, etc. … we can work on getting some other things done on the periphery.”
SIDEBAR: Palm Coast considers millage rate, budget for 2017
Palm Coast’s proposed millage rate for the 2016-2017 fiscal year is 4.2450 mills. That’s a 3% increase from the rolled-back rate, which would be 4.1195 mills.
Under the $154,321,423 proposed budget for the upcoming year, according to a budget presentation at the Aug. 30 City Council meeting, the city’s overall revenues and expenditures for the general fund would increase 4.9%, and the city would add seven general fund jobs: a chief accountant, a construction inspector, a survey technician, two maintenance workers, a landscape architect and an equipment operator. That would bring the number of city employees working in general fund positions from 228 to 235.
The new proposed budget also adds four positions that fall under the rubric of the city’s utility fund — three utility system operator trainees for Wastewater Treatment Plant 2, and one utility system technician for water distribution — and one position in the fleet fund, for a new mechanic.
Major capital improvements planned for 2017 include Old Kings Road widening, renovations at the Palm Coast Community Center, and Belle Terre safety improvements.
There will be a public City Council hearing to adopt the tentative millage rate and budget at 5:05 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Palm Coast City Hall. The final public hearing to adopt the final millage rate and budget will be held at 5:05 p.m. Sept. 21 at City Hall.