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Treasure Island beach trail troubles may be heading toward courtroom

TREASURE ISLAND — Frustrated by the city's new $1.2 million beach trail cracking and the lack of an immediate fix, city commissioners are moving toward rebidding the project.

If a solution can't be worked out with Graham-Booth Landscape Architecture and Biltmore Construction, the two firms involved in the construction of the trail, the city may end up in court.

Commissioners have hired a consultant and now plan to seek new bids to replace the 1-mile curving beachfront walkway, which was completed in March but immediately began to develop cracks.

On the advice of city attorney Maura Kiefer, commissioners decided Sept. 18 to submit a performance bond claim as well as notify the insurance companies that are covering the firms.

"We would hope that any litigation could be avoided," said Mayor Bob Minning. "We hope that we can sit down and come to a resolution."

But if not, the action by the city will "preserve our rights and make sure we are not left holding the bag," Minning said.

Phil Graham IV, owner of Graham-Booth Landscape Architecture, said he has hired two consultants and is doing testing to determine the cause of the cracking. However, it has been months and no report has been given to the commission, which is concerned its one-year warranty that began in March will run out without a resolution.

"He (Graham) is dragging the whole process out and he's been told that directly and that this questions his credibility," City Manager Reid Silverboard told commissioners.

But Graham said he is still working with the city and expects in the next few weeks to present a report with findings and recommendations.

"They (commissioners) will have a chance to weigh in on what we are proposing," he said.

Minning said one solution is to tear up the walkway and start over. The city could then seek reimbursement through the courts from the original builders. But commissioners are hoping that another resolution could be possible.

Silverboard recently hired concrete specialty engineer Kenneth Roush for $5,000 to review tests done by Graham's consultants and to determine if more testing needs to be done to figure out the cause of the cracks.

"He is an objective third-party reviewer," Minning said.

The cause of the cracking needs to be determined before a new walkway is built, officials have said.

"This is a big bump in the road. Nobody would have expected this after the celebration and ribbon cutting we had back in April," Minning said.

The trail, which runs from 119th Avenue to 104th Avenue, has been paid for by a property tax increase approved by voters in 2011 that also included replacing two city bridges.

Treasure Island beach trail troubles may be heading toward courtroom 09/24/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 5:23pm]
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