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City left holding the bag in Community Center repairs

Questions about construction faults that led to the now eight-year-old Cabot Veterans Park Community Center needing more than $800,000 in repairs and renovation cannot yet be answered. City Council members learned Monday that most of the contract and construction records for the building cannot be found - the only certainty appears to be that the city is left holding the tab with no legal remedy.

Cabot Parks and Recreation director John Crow needed more than an hour to detail the repairs and costs needed at the Community Center; he was heard by members of the City Council Agenda committee – the committee determines the matters to come before the City Council at the next regular meeting.

Committee members Kevin Davis, Ann Gilliam, Rick Prentice, Angie Jones, Ed Long and Ryan Flynn attended Monday’s meeting.

After the presentation, Prentice asked if there was court action that the city could take.

City attorney Jimmy Taylor replied that, “Arkansas has a five-year, absolute statute of limitations,” in regard to such matters. “Against any person or any thing.”

In the presentation, Crow listed numerous faults that led to deterioration of the structure through uncontrolled humidity. The buildup was so great that 20 to 25 gallons of water had to be drained from some areas for the assessment by architects Clements and Associates, Crow said.

The Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) control system was not installed; a glass wall between lobby and exercise areas was not installed; the “make-up” air unit to refresh the air in exercise area did not include heat – essentially pumped in hot air during summer and cold air in the winter; moisture barriers were not installed or were improperly installed;

Repairs included the pool pack, which controls the humidity; replacement of the roof; construction of a moisture barrier between the first floor and the pool; and replacing plaster board with cement board in the therapy pool area; painting with “catalyzed” epoxy; replacing metal doors and frames with fiberglass products; replacing moisture damaged plaster board; installation of a glass barrier wall between the exercise room and walking track; installation of a digital control system interlocking the pool pack and the HVAC system.

The total cost of bringing the building “to specification” was $810,075, Crow said.

Inspectors curtailed the inspection of the roof when concerns rose that the roof panels could not be re-installed because the corrosion of the attaching screws was such that they were destroyed in removal, Crow said. It was also believed the roof would have been destroyed if struck by a storm from a vulnerable direction.

The assessment by Clements and Associates of the Community Center began with an attempt to review the submittals and shop drawings, but none those records could be found, Crow said. The contractor did not respond to requests for copies of their records.

There is one early copy of the plan and specifications that was found, but there are no records of the variations between design specifications and what was actually built, or what had been changed during “value engineering;” there were no “close-out” documents found, Crow said.

No contract records could be found; no records of specifications were found to determine whether the installed materials met design requirements, Crow said.

The community center was built in 2006, the principal architect was [Taggart, Foster and Kurnst] [construction was Tulanger Construction].

Without those records, questions such as why the pool pack and HVAC control systems were omitted cannot be answered, Crow said. Without the records, questions such as why the glass wall separating the pool and lobby area was omitted, which was a large part of the humidity problem, cannot be explained.

Early “red flag” issues included water puddling on the gym floor; stained ceiling tiles indicating moisture buildup; water leaking down walls in several areas; peeling paint; visible rust; and an unacceptable smell of chlorine. “It was as soon as you walked in the building. It was unbearable,” he said.

Crow displayed pictures of the problems that had to be corrected, and the measures needed to remedy the faults.

Environmental tests of the building showed 100 percent humidity and high concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in exercise areas, showing the circulation in the building was inadequate, Crow said. Those conditions are now fixed, he added.

Crow finished his presentation with a review of the renovated and repaired areas.

“Personally, I don’t see how some of that stuff was not noticeable,” Crow replied to questions about why it took so long to begin correcting the problems.

He, Crow, was not named parks director until 2013, after measures to fix the building were already under way.

For a time, the belief was that much of the water was coming from leaks in the roof, Crow said. There were efforts to repair what was thought to be the problem, he said.

To other questions, Public Works department director Brian Buroughs responded that city inspectors had monitored the construction, but that was to ensure construction met code requirements, not special purpose specifications called for in building plans.

“Somebody’s got to be accountable for all this,” Prentice remarked. “Almost a million dollars in repairs? Come on.”

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