Mammoth’s Community Recreation Center (CRC) – the circus tent off Old Mammoth – is slated for a ribbon cutting “Fall/Winter, 2023” per the CRC project website.
Last week, I noticed Stellar Brew put up a sign advertising an “Autumn Special.”
So the ribbons are coming.
For context, the CRC will be a 40,300 square foot “Sprung Performance Arena.” In the winter, it will house an Olympic-sized ice rink. In the summer, it will house various courts – “three full-size basketball/volleyball/futsal courts or a full-size Arena Soccer court,” boasts the website. Locker rooms, showers, toilets. “Pending available funding,” the ability to “expand to contain a mezzanine, built in stadium bleachers, and elevated walkways with ADA access for enhanced viewing and community use.”
Plus, a 2,500 square foot multi-purpose space.
The construction contract was awarded to Hamel Contracting in February of 2021. The bid was for $14,831,040. The proposed project schedule originally slated the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Winter 2022/23.
So, why hasn’t the “sprung structure” been completed?
I went on a quest to find out.
My first stop: the Town. Public Works Director/Town Engineer Haislip Hayes was out of the office and couldn’t respond to my inquiries. As was Town Manager Dan Holler. Rob Patterson – Finance Director – didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Recreation Manager Stuart Brown wrote, in an email, that the Town is “working with the contractor on close-out dates and will be providing an update to Council on Sept. 6.” When asked what caused the delay, Brown replied, “Contractor is still catching up from the unprecedented winter.”
Engineering Manager Amy Callanan, when asked why the CRC has yet to open, wrote, “The CRC is not yet open because it is not complete. The contractor is making good progress, and we will be providing more specific information at the September 6 Town Council.
Rumors of the Town suing the contractor and subcontractors led me to Town Attorney Andrew Morris. He explained that the Town had no litigation pending against the contractor or subcontractors of the project.
When large construction contracts between governments and contractors like this occur, it’s typical for the contractor to furnish a surety bond. Basically, a third party – in this case, “North American Speciality Insurance Company” – provides credit that the contractor will fulfill what’s asked of them. In this case, building the CRC.
If the contractor fails to build the CRC, then the Town can file a claim against the surety bond to pay for any damages or losses that the contractor incurred. North American Speciality Insurance Company will pay reparations up to the signified amount in contract. Which, in this case, was $8,884,008. Eventually, the principal (contractor) will have to pay North American Speciality Insurance Company back.
Town Attorney Andrew Morris said that the Town has not filed any claims against the CRC’s surety bond.
Which means that utter contractual failure has yet to occur.
But … Quick Contracting 101. Imagine you’re the mayor of a town. You want to build a lemonade stand. The biggest, best lemonade stand the town’s ever seen. You design the stand, get the specs in order, and open up the project to bid. You hire a general contractor. Life Gives You Lemons Contracting, LLC (LGYLC, LLC). The Town agrees to pay LGYLC $100 to build the stand.
LGYLC breaks ground. But the firm can’t do it alone. So it hires subcontractors. Three of them. Local companies. One builds the stand itself. Another builds the sign. A third builds shelves for the glasses, a cash register, and a stool upon which to sit and sell the lemonade. LGYLC agrees to pay each subcontractor $20 to do its specific job. The system works great.
Until LGYLC fails to pay the subcontractors.
In that case, the subcontractors can put in a stop payment notice – otherwise known as a stop notice. The notice, per the website of Construction Notice Services, Inc., “serves to put a stop to the funds of a project until due payment is received” by the subcontractor that issued the notice. It notifies either “the prime contractor, property owner, or construction lender that payment is due and that they must withhold funds to pay [the subcontractor’s] claim before payments continue to the general contractor.”
Failure to get paid could result in the subcontractor ceasing work or filing a bond claim, writes the site.
An anonymous source informed the Sheet that multiple subcontractors for the CRC have either sent stop notices or still have them in effect.
On Wednesday, I visited the CRC construction site. A pretty giant tent when you’re standing next to it. Piles of construction materials in the parking lot. A pole-heavy playground. A Hamel truck, and some construction workers doing work.
After enough wandering and a couple interactions with construction staff, the foreman came out to greet me. His name was Art. I asked him why the CRC was still unfinished. “I have nothing to say,” he said. He shook his head and chuckled. I asked if he had anything to say off the record. “No, no,” he said. “You know how that goes.”