With some strong encouragement from the city, Lacy Park’s restrooms are back into construction gear with a December completion estimate while the rose arbor is coming along with the bidding process and construction to start as early as January or February.
According to Michael Throne, city engineer and director of Parks and Public Works, the restrooms are “coming along slowly” due to the contractor, Meters Construction of Long Beach, experiencing difficulties finding employees over the summer for the work. The project, initially contracted for completion in April, is now expected to be completed at the end of December.
“We did issue some notices to them that they took very seriously, so in the last three weeks they have pretty much completed the installation of the masonry walls,” Throne told The Tribune, adding that plumbing work is going on simultaneously.
An inspection of the walls is scheduled for next week. If that passes, the next step will be to cap off the top of the walls and have concrete installed into the spaces between the masonry blocks for seismic stability, followed by installation of the roof, according to Throne.
“I’m optimistic but I’m very guarded and cautious,” said Throne, in regards to the December completion date. “We do a twice-a-day review of their work because we want to make sure that they remain serious on completing the job.”
The Lacy Park restroom improvement project was contracted at $337,400 and is coming in under budget, due to the contractor’s late schedule. As liquidated damages were stated in the contract, the city regains $250 per calendar day from the invoices every day it is late from the original completion date of April 30. To date, the contractor owes the city close to $50,000, according to Throne.
“They will not be receiving any retention on this project,” said Throne. “They’re losing money on this project, so the project is becoming less expensive for us although it is late. It’s very, very frustrating.”
For the Lacy Park rose arbor, the design is set to be “a faithful historic reconstruction of the original 1930s arbor,” according to Throne.
The city currently has two bidders for the contract who are prequalified to bid and Throne expected at least two more within a week. Due to the lateness of the restroom project, city staff decided to be cautious with the rose arbor and ensure that prequalification was a part of the process. Prequalification involves a questionnaire and additional paperwork that evaluates a contractor’s ability to be responsible in managing a construction project, according to Throne.
“It’s about their capacity and abilities to manage a public construction contract, which is really important because if you have a contractor that’s just low bid and you don’t ask for that prequalification of their ability to manage a project, you sort of wind up with a Lacy Park restroom,” said Throne.
“It will give us more confidence that the low bidder is not only low bid but also responsible enough to do the project,” Throne continued. “It does make it very clear that you have to pay state prevailing wage, you have to be registered with the state, you have to have this kind of license, you have to be able to deliver a financial report.”
The cost estimate for the rose arbor is $350,000. The current budget for the project is $220,000. Throne expects to present the bids to the City Council at its Wednesday, December 11 meeting at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, where the council will decide whether to award the contract, evaluate prices and decide where additional funding should be sourced from.