Council gets answers on Riverwalk

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Demopolis City Council demanded some answers Thursday night, but didn’t always like what it heard as employees of architectural firm Goodwin, Mills and Cawood Inc. explained a months-long delay on the city’s Riverwalk Project.

The project, which had a completion date of March 28, is still going on.

“In my opinion, the contractor should have been done in May at the latest,” GMC’s Josh Pierce told the council. “I have been after him for months, and I can’t get him to respond.”

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Pierce and members of the council got into a sometimes heated give-and-take over costs, time and payment on the project.

“You have received a better value” than the original plans of the Riverwalk Project, Pierce told the council.

But District 4 representative Woody Collins disagreed.

“I question your verbiage,” Collins said. “We lost the (planned) beach. We lost the sloping of the bank. Y’all have been paid $75,000. The contractor is still owed $100,000. What have Goodwin, Mills and Cawood lost?”

Due to what Pierce called a “design error” by the architects, the original plan for the project was changed — and those changes were signed off on by the city of Demopolis. Those changes helped bring in the project under its $538,000 budget, Pierce said.

But Collins said the city didn’t seem to be getting what it paid for — and his perception was that the architectural firm was not paying for its own design error.

“I still have a problem with the city taking the brunt of the errors and omissions on this project and y’all walk away unscathed,” Collins said.

“We have lost a good deal of money in redesign fees,” Pierce said.

Pressed by District 2 Councilman Charles Jones Sr., Pierce took responsibility for the design flaw that originally would have made the project overrun.

“That is our error,” Pierce said. “I don’t know how many times I can say that.”

“We didn’t make the mistake,” Jones said.

“I am not going to say it again,” Pierce said.

Pierce also told the council that the project seemed to be coming in under budget, at $535,910.

But the problems persist along the Riverwalk. It’s five months later, and still no date has been set for completion. The city council gave Pierce an ultimatum to take back to the contractor: find a firm date for completion or face a lawsuit. Pierce said he would pass that information along to the contractor Friday.