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Council Settles Lawsuit With Former Oceanfront Park Contractor

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KURE BEACH - The Kure Beach Town Council emerged from closed session at their April 15th, meeting and announced a decision to settle an ongoing lawsuit with Integrity Builders LLC concerning construction of an ocean front park.
According to a release issued by the Town at the meeting, "The Kure Beach Town Council, after much thought and consideration, has decided to settle the lawsuit filed against the Town by the former Ocean Front Park project contractor, Integrity Builders, LLC."
According to the Town, during construction of the park certain claims and disputes arose between the Town and the contractor over the quality of the work being performed. On December 30, 2011, the Town Council terminated the contract with Integrity Builders. The surety bonding company that provided a performance bond for Integrity Builders agreed to take over and complete the project.
According to the release, "In March of 2012, Integrity Builders filed a suit against the Town alleging various breaches of contract and warranties by the Town that resulted in the contractor being wrongfully terminated. To defend itself, the Town Council authorized counterclaims to be filed against Integrity Builders. The parties engaged in extensive and expensive discovery before agreeing to participate in a mediated settlement conference. Before this mediation, Integrity Builders made it clear that if a settlement was not reached, it intended to add Engineering Services, Lisle Architecture & Design, and David Lisle, individually, as parties to the lawsuit. These are firms the Town also had contracts with regarding construction of the park. These firms also participated in the mediation and in the resulting settlement."
According to the Town, the mediated settlement conference and subsequent negotiations resulted in a settlement of all disputed issues and claims without an admission of wrongdoing or liability by any party. As part of this settlement, the Town Council agreed to remit payment of $160,000."
In a release issued at the meeting it stated, "The Town Council regrets that the citizens and the good name of the Town have been involved in this lawsuit. The Council's goal throughout this project was to obtain a well built, quality product that everyone would be proud of. The Town Council is very proud of the Ocean Front Park as it stands today and believes it to be a true asset and gathering place for the community. Thousands have enjoyed the park since it opened in April 2013 and future generations will continue to enjoy this wonderful public space on the ocean front."
In December 2011, Council terminated the contract with the original contractor and negotiated with the insurance bonding company to select a new contractor to resume work.
In a press release issued Tuesday April 3, 2012 it stated, "The Kure Beach Town Council voted in a special meeting on Thursday, March 29, 2012 to accept a takeover agreement with The Gray Casualty and Surety Company of Metairie, Louisiana (bonding company) to complete construction of the Ocean Front Park project and is waiting final signature from the bonding company.”
As part of the takeover agreement, the bonding company hired Landmark Corporation of Johnston City, Tennessee as the completion contractor. Landmark Corporation is licensed in 48 states and was experienced in finishing projects where there has been a change of contractor.
Existing unacceptable work on the site was removed and rebuilt.
The project consisted of an open-air pavilion for concerts and other events, a public restroom, small playground for tots, walking path, swings and benches. The park site is located at 105 Atlantic Ave in the heart of the Town and across the street from the ocean. Also as part of the project, the boardwalk from K to L Avenue was replaced and four wooden platforms extend from the boardwalk towards the dunes. The platforms have swings for viewing the ocean. A fifth platform is for an ADA conforming viewing area.
The original contractor, Wayne Laws - Integrity Builders LLC - explained in 2011 there were issues with the project and he modified the plans. Because he didn't request change orders from the Town, he would be responsible for the cost of repairs.
He said of the concrete finisher, "It's not the best finish job I've ever seen. He is willing to do whatever he needs to do to take care of it. Ponding is also his fault." He said other modifications such as the height of concrete at restroom entrances had to be changed. The Council discussed alternative solutions but after multiple meetings, no resolution was reached.
In addition to other issues, the Town claimed the concrete poured for the pavilion was uneven and would cause ponding of rainwater. They took issue with the quality of workmanship on the wooden boardwalk and crossovers.
Later on Integrity Builders  filed a lawsuit. They alleged breach of contract, breach of expressed and implied warranties, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and seeking in excess of $10,000 for each claim, interest and cost of the action and attorney's fees.
At a meeting in 2011, Wayne Laws said, "I need better communication. I don't feel I'm getting the feedback I need to help me build this building. There are a lot of things that aren't working. I put myself at risk - obviously I'm going to take care of this problem - but I put myself at risk by not following the plans to make sure this works. I'm not going to do that from now on. You need to communicate because I'm not going to deviate from the plans at all." Laws said he chose to alter the plans to address certain issues and said the plans were not entirely up to code.
The Town pointed out in previous meetings that a clause in the contract with Laws said deviation from the plans would be his responsibility if the Town did not approve permission before making changes.
The project was completed and a grand opening was held Friday, April 26, 2013.