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October 17, 2003

IN BREACH

Wheels come off skate park

BOARD, CONTRACTOR AT ODDS OVER QUALITY, SCOPE OF WORK PERFORMED AT FACILITY

By DOUG McMURDO
PVT

Town attorney Cristina Hinds put things in perspective in regards to the Justin Leavitt Memorial Skate Park when she said at Tuesday's town board meeting: "This is a sad story."

It is also a story with two very different sides.

The board voted 4-0 to terminate its contract with Henderson-based Monument Construction, the builder of the park, and ordered town staff to fence off the $410,000 project to protect children from what some say are unsafe conditions at the facility.

Hinds and interim Town Manager Peggy Warner said officials from Monument Construction have not responded to a punch list of repairs at the park and have not returned repeated telephone calls from either woman or architect and consultant Jack Zunnino.

But Paul Scheltz, Monument's project manager, was available for comment Wednesday morning when contacted by the Pahrump Valley Times. He painted a much different picture of what has transpired, and he defended the performance of his company.

Scheltz said as far as he is concerned, the punch list is done. He accused the town of adding items to the list after it was finalized.

Scheltz also pointed a finger at Zunnino, accusing the architect of coming up with a flawed design and then placing the blame on Monument.

Board members hired Zunnino hired as a consultant on the project for a $25,000 fee after they approved the plans he drew up for the park.

On Aug. 28 Warner and board members Jeanna Howard and Paula Glidden met with Zunnino and Scheltz to tour the park. At that time, flaws were cited but Zunnino declared the project "substantially completed," a fact that is not lost on Scheltz. "They deemed the park substantially complete, and then in private they un-deemed it. They're even trying to make us repair vandalism that occurred after the fact."

Hinds on Tuesday night said Monument Construction should be declared in breach of contract. She added that a complaint has been filed with the Nevada Commission on Labor and there are other issues involved that could delay a breech of contract declaration.

The attorney made the comments in response to a question from board member Charlotte LeVar, who asked if the town should file a lawsuit against the contractor.

Roughly $200,000 of the $410,000 cost of the facility is still owed by the town. While Scheltz said he has hired an attorney, Hinds said subcontractors are still owed money as well.

"I'm not sure what the (monetary) damages would be," Hinds said, adding the town can't disperse any money, though she conceded the termination letter had already been sent to Scheltz.

It was board member Howard who pushed for the facility to be fenced until it is deemed safe. The town has yet to accept the facility from Monument and it is technically not yet open, but local young people have been using it for the last two months.

"I'll be the bad guy," Howard said before making the motion to install security fencing around the skate park. "I want this place shut down."

Hinds said there was no need to vote on Howard's suggestion. Instead she recommended the board simply direct town staff to take care of the fencing. That work had not been started by press time Thursday, reportedly because town staff was still waiting for clearance from Hinds to do the work.

From Scheltz's perspective, the park is safe. "The kids love it," he said. "It's packed every weekend."

As for the series of problems that have plagued the project, he firmly placed blame on the town.

The skate park was supposed to be completed by June. Scheltz said Warner told people that there were problems with the concrete, and a lengthy delay ensued while tests were performed. Scheltz said there wasn't a problem and accused Warner of slander. "She had no facts to even make that statement," he said. "I couldn't get concrete in Pahrump. Every company in Pahrump refused to bring us concrete. I had to get it from Vegas. She's caused us a lot of problems."

Warner on Wednesday responded to the allegation. She acknowledged she made inaccurate comments regarding the quality of the concrete work, but she insists she immediately corrected herself. "I put my foot in my mouth, but I took it back out real quick," said Warner, who added the cause of the delay was due to the testing process.

When Monument failed to meet the June completion date, the town began to assess the firm a $750 fee for each day it was in breach. Before the fines were cancelled, the firm had racked up roughly $50,000 in penalties.

Scheltz said his company made numerous concessions, including moving a water tank at a loss of roughly $10,000 and splitting the cost of a mandatory soils test that was not included in Zunnino's original draft of the park.

"I just feel like they're trying to get things from us (for free).

The job is fine. The kids love it."



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