The following memo was sent by the RVCA's counsel to Commissioner Sorensen.
Dear Mr. Commissioner:
As you may recall, I am a member of the Fire-Rescue Facilities Bond Issue Blue Ribbon Committee. The Committee met this evening at City Hall, and received certain information concerning the status of the construction of fire station number eight which is extremely distressing. Since I will be reporting on this information at the Rio Vista Civic Association annual meeting on Monday night which you will also be attending, I wanted to provide this to you in advance so that you will have a "heads up". The comments contained in this communication are mine, and they are not the opinion of the Committee, although I suspect that most of the Committee members share my view.
I am attaching a copy of the Memorandum which was provided to the Committee members dated January 16, 2020 by the City staff. As with historical protocol, an individual from the City's public works staff reads the report out loud. Following his reading of the report, the members of the Committee are allowed to raise questions.
During the interrogation of the City staff personnel attending the meeting we learned a number of distressing things which include the following:
1. Sometime in December, all of the subcontractors walked off the job and ceased all work as a result of not being paid. After a somewhat extensive questioning, we learned that the City was late in paying the general contractor because the City claimed that the general contractor had not obtained all of the required paperwork which constitute lien waivers from the general contractor who is supposed to obtain them from the subcontractors. Of course, the cessation of work by the general contractor and the subcontractors further delayed the project. To me, this does not make sense. The general contractor for this construction project is the same general contractor that constructed fire station number 54. The general contractor is well aware of the requirements for obtaining release of liens from subcontractors, so I find it difficult to believe that all of a sudden the general contractor was unable to comply with City requirements.
2. We were also told that as of the first of the year, virtually all of the City personnel in the public works department who were involved with the supervision of the construction of fire station number eight have been moved to other projects or replaced. As a result, we were introduced to a totally new team of individuals to supervise the station eight project that apparently do not have a substantial amount of historical knowledge of dealing with this general contractor and the fire department. This is just my supposition, but the issues surrounding the late payments may have also been exacerbated by the change of city personnel directly involved with the construction project.
3. As you will see the attached Memorandum, a completion date is stated in the text as March 28, 2020. On further questioning of the City personnel, we learned that this is not an accurate date, and the new completion date will be no sooner than May 21, 2020. This is as result of complications from the change order for the new roll-up doors. On further questioning of the City personnel, we learned that the change order is not really $56,000, but some amount close to or in excess of $100,000. Because of the size of this change order, it will need Commission approval, which will further delay the completion date past May 21. As a result, this fire station which was supposed to be online at the beginning of 2020, may not be operational until June or later.
4. In connection with the issue of the roll-up doors, in questioning of the City personnel, we learned that the architect had specified the wrong doors in the approved specifications for the project, and the issue of the incorrect specifications was only discovered this far into the project. Considering fire station number 54 was completed last year and had the same door requirements with the same general contractor, it is surprising that it took this long to recognize the architect's mistake in specifying the wrong doors. As you can see from the attached report, the new doors have to be specially fabricated which according to the report has an additional 60 days to the completion.
5. We were told that the contract with the general contractor provides for liquidated damages of $1,000 per day for being late. However, we were also told that because some of the delays were on account of whether which does not count towards liquidated damages, and since there is a dispute with respect to the December non-payment of the subcontractors, liquidated damages may not be collectible.
As you are aware, the need for fire suppression equipment and EMS equipment in a closer proximity to the east side of Fort Lauderdale, including Rio Vista, has been a critical issue facing all of the residents of the area. The Fort Lauderdale Fire Department has stated that Rio Vista has one of the longest response times of anywhere in the city for EMS or fire suppression. Thus, the report that was provided to us at tonight's Committee meeting is extremely disturbing. The fact that all new City personnel will become involved with the project that is already now at least five months delayed is disappointing.
Since I believe that you are unaware of a lot of the facts as outlined above, I wanted to bring them to your attention as they will be discussed by me at Monday night's meeting.
Should you need any additional amplification, please let me know.