Park building penalties set

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

Delays in constructing a new community building at Riverside Park will cost a local company $5,000.
Iola commissioners approved the liquidated damages Tuesday for Below Standard Construction after learning the building at Riverside Park was officially complete.
Ryan and Ty Garrett, owners of Below Standard, spoke with commissioners about missing the construction deadline, originally pegged at Aug. 14.
If the city were to assess penalties set forth in the original contract, they would have been $33,500.
However, Ty Garrett said delays at the start of the project put work behind schedule from the beginning. He noted that additional land needed to be excavated to conform with Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations; Below Standard was forced to remove the existing Fair Board mobile home because no one else did; and the design was modified during construction.
And then there was the rain.
The Garretts counted 35 days in which construction was limited or halted altogether because of rain, although they conceded their contract with the city did not account for rain days.
“That was an oversight on our part,” Ty Garrett said.
However, the brothers noted their bid was part of a larger service project originally pursued by their father, the late Wayne Garrett.
“We weren’t in this to make money,” Ryan Garrett said. “We bid this because our father wanted to see the Fair Board have a permanent building as opposed to a trailer.”

THE OLD Fair Board trailer was destroyed in the 2007 flood, as was the city’s New Community Building, directly west of the stadium.
The Fair Board and city pooled their resources to create a single community building that will house the Fair Board during one week in August for the annual Allen County Fair. What was formerly the New Community Building has been retrofitted as a garage and storage facility for the city.
The Garretts submitted to commissioners Tuesday a proposal that would have incurred a $3,500 penalty.
Assistant City Administrator Corey Schinstock, meanwhile, submitted another option for commissioners to consider — which accounted for the lost work due to the extra excavation work — putting the liquidated damages at $22,000.
“Any of those would hurt,” Ty Garrett said. “We were a little naive. If we had to do it over, and if we were in this to make money, we would have bid more than $600,000. Below Standard’s $487,970.22 that later was pared down to stay below $480,000, although that was certain to change after FEMA ordered the additional excavation work. The other bid, from D.E. Construction, came in at $537,945.
Mayor Bill Maness said he was sympathetic to Below Standard’s plight, but also pointed out that the bid and contract were submitted by the construction company.
Commissioner Bill Shirley proposed sticking with the Garretts’ proposal to assess $3,500 in damages.
Commissioner Craig Abbott then proposed a compromise, assessing a $5,000 penalty.
“I know it hurts you, but it also hurts me to sit here and have to do this,” Abbott said.
Abbott’s proposal passed unanimously.
Commissioners approved the final payment on the project, putting the price tag at $482,00. The final price is about $2,000 more than the city’s contract with Below Standard, so it must be amended, City Attorney Chuck Apt said. That amendment was approved as well. Commissioners also directed City Administrator Judy Brigham to pay directly three subcontractors who assisted Below Standard in the project.

PRIOR TO the park building discussions, the focus was on the old IGA building on 314 W. Garfield St.
Kendall Callahan, who has owned the building since November 2008, appeared at a condemnation hearing for the building.
Why, Callahan asked, was the hearing held to begin with, particularly since he had been improving the structure in recent months at the city’s behest.
“Everything you’ve asked me to do, I’ve done,” Callahan said.
At the hearing, Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Bauer cited a number of needed improvements to the building, such as installing a new roof, removing a vine that had been growing along the wall and repainting masonry that had begun to flake.
Callahan noted the roof has been covered temporarily. He is seeking additional investors in order to open a new grocery store in the building, which would require an insulated roof.
If the building cannot be used as a grocery, Callahan said, it would be used for storage, and a less expensive roof would be installed.
“But it’s a little bit difficult to be living in a town where I do what’s asked, then read in the paper that condemnation proceedings have begun,” Callahan said.
Commissioners said they would look at the city’s policies to see if changes needed to be made in the notification process so that property owners would not be caught off guard.
Shirley noted that Callahan has improved the property substantially and removed many of the health and safety nuisances that had been prevalent in the structure.
Still, Maness added, the appearance of the building had drawn complaints from neighbors for years.
Commissioners directed Bauer and Apt to visit further with Callahan to develop a timeline to determine how long it would take to either convert the building to a grocery store or a storage facility.

BRIGHAM told commissioners that the city will disband its Reserve-a-Truck practice temporarily now that winter has arrived.
With wintry weather, the trucks could be needed at a moment’s notice to clear roads of ice or snow, Brigham said. And the city has already conducted a cleanup week and a pair of leaf pickups in recent weeks, lessening the need for the trucks to be reserved.
If spring weather comes early, perhaps in February, the Reserve-a-Truck program will be reinstituted then, Brigham said. Otherwise, the program likely won’t resume before March.