In an emergency meeting on Friday, Dec. 13, the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors terminated its contract with Rosso Site Development for the completion of Acreage Community Park’s southern expansion and set Friday, Dec. 27 for a special meeting to ratify a contract with a new construction company to finish the job.
Work remains to be done at the park, and supervisors said there has been little activity at the site recently to complete the job, which has had numerous delays.
The meeting was attended by ITID President Betty Argue and supervisors Tim Sayre and Joni Martin. Sayre made a motion to approve a resolution terminating the contract, which carried 3-0.
Once the vote was taken, Argue moved on to a discussion of hiring a new contractor to complete the project.
“I don’t want to get into a lot of details at this point because it may not be appropriate, but one of the things that has been a hiccup all along is that the construction industry is booming right now, so trying to get a general contractor that will come in in the middle of a project and take over and clean up somebody else’s mess is fairly difficult,” she said. “The last time we were looking, I think we had $1.5 million left on the project six months ago. We have gotten a lot done, but we’re still not where we’re supposed to be, and there is still a lot outstanding.”
Argue said the amount of work outstanding is below $300,000 but added that there may be some issues with the work that was completed, pointing out, as an example, that a tractor destroyed a walkway when it rolled over it.
“Some of this damage that has been done, they’ve created,” she said.
Staff pointed out that they cannot certify the project to the county in its current state.
“Because of the timing, we’re going into the Christmas holidays, everybody’s schedules are kind of wacky, and we’re going to be in Tallahassee for Palm Beach County Days the week of [Jan. 13],” Argue explained. “The following week we’re probably going to have our board meeting, and the following week is [the Florida Association of Special Districts] in Tallahassee. So, we’ve got five weeks in January and three of them are already pretty much taken up. I don’t think it’s a good idea to wait until our board meeting to bring something to the board to approve.”
She suggested that the members there that evening authorize ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson to find a contractor to complete the balance of the work remaining without having to come back to the board for approval, and get the work started in the first week of January, pointing out that ITID staff has found at least one contractor that is prepared to start working in the first week of January that could finish the remaining work within two months.
Argue also pointed out that the new contractor would have to change the names on the permits with the county and coordinate with subcontractors that remain on the project.
“My recommendation is that we authorize Burgess to be able to do that,” she said. “If we were to do that, we would also need a motion from the board to waive the district policy for needing to get three quotes, under the circumstances, in an emergency situation. It’s next to impossible to get three quotes in this time frame.”
Argue said she would sign the contract, but Hanson would be responsible for finding a contractor.
“Then we would bring it back to the board for ratification,” she said. “The real key is getting that balance of work done and getting a submittal to Palm Beach County.”
Sayre asked ITID’s legal staff if it is legal to waive getting three competitive bids on the project, and ITID Attorney Frank Palin said there is a statutory exemption when a construction contractor is terminated.
“You have your own policies here at the district, so you’re waiving your policy,” Palin said.
Sayre asked how long reassignment of a contract would take, especially during the holiday season, and Argue said she had spoken with county planning staff, who assured her that they would expedite the process, although the county’s water permitting could take as long as 90 days.
“So, it could possibly take two to three months,” Sayre said. “If we sign a contract on Jan. 15, three months later we’re talking the middle of April, if it takes that long with the water?”
Sayre also asked if Argue signs the contract and the board fails to ratify the contract, does it make the contract non-binding?
ITID Attorney Mary Viator said it is necessary for the board to ratify the contract.
“I know that the board would be kept in the loop in regard to the terms of the contract,” Viator said. “I know we’ve talked about inspections and those kinds of things, so we know what the scope of the services are going to be, but yes, we would need ratification.”
Sayre suggested having another emergency meeting once they have a contract so they can ratify the contract immediately.
Argue said that would be difficult with the timing of everyone’s schedules, but Sayre felt that the board should grant approval before work is started.
“I have no problem letting [Hanson] go out and look for the contract, negotiate the contract and everything else, but I think it needs to be brought back to the board before it’s signed,” he said.
Martin said she was also concerned about having work start by a new contractor without having ratification by the board. “We want to do things legally and correctly,” she said.
After more discussion, Viator recommended scheduling a special meeting for Friday, Dec. 27 to ratify the contract, and the board agreed.