To the chagrin of Belle Plaine Mayor Chris Meyer and members of the city council,  the date of substantial completion for the Belle Plaine Aquatic Center  was pushed back by six weeks, from June 26 to August 7.

The push back comes as a result of a request made by the project’s contractor, Bradbury Stamm Construction.

The extension request came after a number of change orders and unseasonable weather delays, particularly in January and May, that hampered the project. The building structure that will house locker rooms, according to representatives from the company, specifically posed time hurdles. But the project, according to Bill Trout, senior project manager with Bradbury Stamm, did not come with any massive surprises.

“It was really just the weather,” Trout said to The Herald outside of city council chambers Monday night.

“Not being done by the substantial completion date is a bigger deal to us than people realize,” Trout said to the city council in a calm but tense exchange leading up to the council’s decision to grant the extension.

“Substantial completion” was taken to mean that the pool would be operational for its intended purpose, according to Trout.

Public Works Superintendent Al Fahey, who has served as a liaison between the city and Bradbury Stamm, explained the circumstances surrounding  the project’s delay to the city council at Monday night’s  meeting. He reiterated that the company and its sub-contractors have been regularly working overtime and weekends to meet the previous deadline.

Members of the city council noted that they saw crews working during winter conditions as well.

City Administrator Dawn Meyer noted the change-orders, which the city presented the company while the project was taking shape without consideration of weather delays, pushed the project back 21 days.

“I get it, but I’m very disappointed,” Mayor Meyer said prior to discussion on the matter.

Following a closed session to discuss personnel, the council reconvened to discuss the matter further, as well as to get reassurance from Bradbury Stamm that the six weeks would be enough.  The discussion determined that the company hopes to finish the project prior to  the August 7 substantial completion date. But training pool staff would not likely be completed by that date.

The council proposed granting a four-week extension with a review following that window. The city’s legal council, Robert Vose, who was present at the meeting, voiced concern about passing a sweeping motion to set a hard deadline when city engineer and architect change-order timelines and hard-to-quantify weather delays are taken into account.

“The city has to have a reason for the amount of time they’re giving them, and it can’t be because we really want a pool by the end of June,” Vose said. “They’re entitled to some additional days [in the contract], and we have to view it in that context, as to what they are entitled to.”

Trout noted that Bradbury Stamm has no intention of slowing down and will continue to work weekends, but ultimately, weather will play a major role in the pace at which the work can be completed.

“What we’re requesting is reasonable if you look at weather reports,” Trout said. “I don’t know what we would have done differently. We did everything that was asked of us.”

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