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    Sunday, February 25, 2024

    New London community center construction delay will cost $230K

    New London ― A six-month delay in breaking ground for the city’s new community center has so far increased the cost of the project by nearly $230,000.

    City officials are not ruling out heading to court to determine who’ll ultimately foot that bill.

    The City Council on Monday could enter into executive session to discuss the status of “pending and/or threatened litigation” by the city regarding permit delays associated with the $40 million community center project.

    Several city officials, including Mayor Michael Passero, Finance Director David McBride and Felix Reyes, director of the city’s Office of Planning and Development, are slated to join the council in the closed-door session, as are representatives of Downes Construction, the company building the center.

    Construction of the planned 58,000-square-foot facility on the Fort Trumbull peninsula began in July, six months after the original start date. City officials said the delay was largely due to waiting for a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection flood management certificate and a storm water and wastewater discharge permit.

    Passero on Friday said the city is still investigating who involved on the project planning side was responsible for the delay and the associated cost overruns.

    “But it’s certainly not going to be on the city,” he said.

    Passero said the option to head into executive session, which council members could decline, was offered since any discussion on delay and cost responsibility could “potentially be part of future litigation.”

    “But that doesn’t mean we’re definitely going to court; there could be a reimbursement agreement worked out,” he said. “Or we could end up in litigation.”

    A Nov. 10 change order evaluation submitted by the Downes company notes three areas of additional project spending because of “DEEP Permit” delays.

    Nearly $194,000 in labor, materials, tools and equipment is needed to account for anticipated winter conditions at the main work site. That money will pay for ground heaters and additives to enable concrete to be poured in low temperatures, as well as for insulating blankets and fuel.

    Project site subcontractor Giordano is requesting $29,433 for new labor, material, tool and equipment costs related to upcoming foundation excavation work

    “This work was not originally anticipated to occur during the winter months,” the change order document states.

    Another $6,600 is needed to re-clear overgrown areas of the site that grew back during the permit approval period.

    The $229,586 total of winter change orders will initially be covered by Downes.

    Each of the cost descriptions ended with the same sentence: “Funding for the expense will be covered using owner’s contingency as the the team seeks compensation for costs associated with the permit-related delay.”

    The change orders are not expected to delay the 2025 opening of the facility, which will boast a host of amenities, including a community lounge, classroom space for early childhood programming, a two-court gymnasium, eight-lane pool, track area and workout and game rooms.

    “We’re off and running and not slowing down work because of the winter,” Passero said.

    The project’s initial $30 million price tag, approved by the council in 2021, jumped by approximately $10 million as more detailed cost figures emerged, with the gap later filled with a combination of state and federal funding. The city was also awarded a $1.2 million grant through the state’s Brownfield Remediation program for pre-construction site work.

    The City Council will convene at 7 p.m., Monday, at City Hall.

    j.penney@theday.com

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