Archive for Monday, January 6, 2014

City looking to replace part of Rock Chalk Park roadwork after contractor disregarded warning from inspector

January 6, 2014


City engineers are recommending that a portion of the roadwork at the Rock Chalk Park sports complex be torn out and rebuilt after crews employed by Lawrence contractor Thomas Fritzel disregarded warnings that the project wasn't being built correctly.

A new City Hall report found that a Nov. 30 concrete pour at the northwest Lawrence sports park proceeded even after city-hired inspectors told contractors that the rebar and other structures to support the streets didn't meet city standards or specifications.

"That is an issue," Mayor Mike Dever said of the report's findings. "You won't get any argument from me on that point. We're not going to pay a construction management firm to tell us how to do this, and then let the contractors do it however they are going to do it."

Bliss Sports, a Lawrence company controlled by Fritzel, is conducting the work as part of an unusual no-bid contract with the city that totals about $12 million. The contract calls for the city to pay for infrastructure work — such as streets, parking lots and utilities — for both the city's 181,000-square-foot recreation center and the private track and field, soccer and softball stadiums that will be owned by one of Fritzel's company. The sports stadiums will be leased to Kansas University.

City Hall officials said they have been pleased with the quality of the work performed thus far by Bliss, but said the Nov. 30 concrete pour was concerning.

"The city's position is that the work is unacceptable, and the work has to be replaced," City Manager David Corliss said.

The work involved portions of the concrete that connects Rock Chalk Parkway, George Williams Way and an access road on the site. It wasn't immediately clear how much it may cost the contractor to replace the material.

It also was unclear whether Fritzel had agreed to remove and replace the concrete.

"If something was not done to standards it obviously will have to be rectified," Fritzel said.

But Fritzel said he wasn't on the job site the day of the pour and he said he wasn't yet ready to concede that the work wasn't done correctly.

"I will stand behind any of the work out there," Fritzel said. "It is quality work."

Fritzel said he didn't have an explanation for why crews decided to proceed with the project despite being told by inspectors that the site hadn't been prepared properly.

City officials said the Nov. 30 pour has been the biggest issue related to construction quality they have encountered with Bliss thus far. But past inspection reports on the project have noted other discrepancies. A previous report noted that the thickness of the concrete on portions of George Williams Way, the main road leading into the sports complex, was not as great as the city's contract required. The contract called for 10 inches of concrete, but city inspectors measured only 9 inches to 9.5 inches in most locations.

City Engineer David Cronin said he likely would not recommend that George Williams Way be torn up and rebuilt. He said the new street meets the city's minimum standards but falls short of the enhanced standards the city had sought as part of the project. He said he would recommend the city deduct an undetermined amount of money from the project to compensate for the lesser quality work.

An inspection sheet in September also shows that the amount of sub-grade used on several of the complex's parking lots was less that the contract called for. In one instance, inspectors tested seven different locations, each time finding that the amount of crushed gravel to support the concrete was lacking by anywhere from a quarter of an inch to two inches.

"I don't think it has been anything intentional on the part of the contractors," Cronin said. "And we have had areas where pavements have come in thicker than expected, too. The vast majority of work out there has been acceptable."

Corliss said he plans to brief commissioners on the construction issues at the complex at Tuesday's City Commission meeting.

Commissioner Mike Amyx, the lone commissioner who voted against the the no-bid contract arrangement with Bliss Sports, said he wants to make sure that the city doesn't pay Fritzel's firm for any of the infrastructure work until the entire project has been completed to the city's satisfaction.

Corliss confirmed that the city hasn't yet paid for the Nov. 30 pour, and a payment isn't scheduled to be made until the end of the project.


Gary Pomeroy 4 years, 3 months ago

gee, what a shocking development. Kind of like the lights being pt up before the lighting plan was approved. I am curious as to how many more of these "incidents" will occur by the time this is all done. By the was, "city-hired inspectors"?? We dont have anyone qualified to inspect the project? "All animals are equal - just some are more equal than others." George Orwell, Animal Farm.

Chad Lawhorn 4 years, 3 months ago

The city hired BG Consultants to perform the inspection of the Nov. 30 pour because it was on a Saturday, when city inspectors weren't available, according to the report. Thanks, Chad

Arnie Bunkers 4 years, 3 months ago

Weren't available? WTH?

Not sure most in the private sector could get away with that.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 3 months ago

Hire a crook then look shocked when you get robbed.

Wayne Kerr 4 years, 3 months ago

Oh sure, people want to complain about the placement of the lights or that the concrete might not be up to code and they'll probably complain, too, when the roofs leak. But we all need to look at the bigger picture, remember, this is a gift from Fritzell. He's not doing it for the 12 million we're paying him to develop his land or the millions he'll receive from a lifetime of collecting concessions and parking. I'm sure with every corner he cuts he was going to be giving the money saved back to the city. I'll bet he was going to wait until after the project was complete before he let us know about the money we saved. So when this project is done and the doors are falling off their hinges, the parking lot and roads are under water, and the buildings are sinking into the ground, we shouldn't complain, after all, think of all the money we saved.

Zach Davis 4 years, 3 months ago

Why don't we just rename the city hall Fritzel, Compton and Montgomery-Adair Bank?

Lawrence Morgan 4 years, 3 months ago

It looks to me like certain city people are really into this kind of work. I would suggest a complete inspection of the work done to date by someone who is competent.

Second, city engineer David Cronin seems right in on the take. Why would he otherwise agree so readily to not tearing up George Williams Way and doing the entire project right? I say get rid of him and find another person who knows what he is doing. It's also time to bring the former city commissioners into some kind of court hearing so that we can learn what's really been going on with taxpayers' money.

Robert Rauktis 4 years, 3 months ago

"I'm shocked … SHOCKED… to find gambling is going on here!" / "Inspector, here are your winnings." - Casablanca (1942)

Richard Heckler 4 years, 3 months ago

Intentional or not demand the concrete work be replaced to meet code. Fritzel has been around long enough to know better. The arrogance is disturbing.

Has any Fritzel coughed up the $50,000 fine because a Fritzel said to hell with site plans and such regarding the campus apartment venture?

Does LJW know?

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