On Thursday, the City Commission awarded the repair contract to Playcore Wisconsin, doing business as Gametime, who was the sole bidder.
On March 16, 2017, Johnson City commissioners awarded a $124,997 contract to First Place Finish, a company based in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to build the Carver Park playground. City officials said the project was expected to take six or seven weeks, but ended up stretching out over several months.
“This has been very problematic from the outset with extensive delays and broken promises,” City Manager Pete Peterson said.
Parks and Recreation Director James Ellis said the city took it upon itself to order an audit of the playground once First Place Finish finally deemed the playground complete.
That audit, conducted by Bill Mars with Playground Guardian on April 14, found 21 deficiencies with the brand-new playground, including exposed anchors at the bottom of steel cables, loose turf grass creating trip hazards, uneven elevation around play structures and exposed screws and nails.
Commissioner Joe Wise asked if the deficiencies “called into question” the safety of the play structure, to which Ellis responded, “Absolutely.”
“We couldn't act on that until they said, 'We're finished with the project.' At that point, we heard from the audit that there are numerous deficiencies, and that's why we're here this evening is to hopefully make the corrections needed,” Ellis told commissioners.
Ellis said it will probably be another 60 days before Playcore Wisconsin can bring the playground into compliance.
“I think the only delay right now would be an insurance check, however that vendor recently did a project for us so I feel very confident that will happen rather quickly,” Ellis said.
The city’s Purchasing Department contacted two vendors, Great Southern and Playrite, that attended the mandatory pre-bid meeting about fixing the playground, but both companies ultimately decided to not submit bids.
Great Southern’s response was “not enough time to figure out all the discrepancies that exist. Also the ‘bold statements’ made by First Place Finish so (they) chose to pass.”
Playrite said it did “not want to get involved with another contractor’s unfinished project and litigation mentioned at pre-bid (meeting).” Playrite officials also they were too busy to start another project quickly.
During an April agenda review meeting, Peterson said the city has yet to pay anything to First Place Finish and expects the matter will end up in court. The city has not yet filed a lawsuit against the company.
In other business, the City Commission approved a road closure for Johnson City’s first Veteran’s Day parade in decades.
Organized by American Legion Post 24, the parade will take place Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. The parade’s proposed route will begin at the Memorial Park Community Center and make its way down Market Street before turning left on Buffalo Street and back up Main Street toward the community center.
“We know historically, the Armistice Day Parade, later renamed as the Veteran's Day Parade, was ongoing quite in earnest all the way through the 1950s. Somewhere we stopped having the Veteran's Day parade. We don't know when. No one can put their finger on that, but it doesn't matter. We're going to start again,” American Legion Post 24 Commander Bryan Lauzon said.
Lauzon said his group is hoping to organize the parade in way that it tells a story about America’s military history, beginning with the Revolutionary War through the war in Iraq.