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City of Kirkland hires new contractor to complete Juanita Beach Park improvements

Construction activity finally resumed at Juanita Beach Park Monday as the City of Kirkland hired Lake Stevens-based Marshbank Construction, Inc. to complete the project.

"Our Public Works Department has used them on prior projects and they have been very responsive," said Kirkland Parks Interim Deputy Director Micheal Cogle. "We knew that they had the capability to step in at a moment's notice."

The park was abruptly left silent on June 3 when the city terminated its contract with DMSL Construction, Inc. for failure to complete the project on time.

City officials said they hope the park will reopen before the end of the summer. But the agreement that Marshbank is working under is different from the lump-sum contract given to DMSL. Because city officials want the project to move fast, the project will be paid for when each aspect of the work is completed.

“Our goal is to open up Juanita Beach Park as soon as possible while still protecting the city’s financial interests,” said Kirkland City Manager Kurt Triplett. “Thanks to the swift action by the city council, our agreement with Marshbank Construction gives us the best opportunity to meet both of those goals. The waiver granted by the council allows us to bypass the six to eight weeks of a formal bidding process and maximize the chance that the beach will open this summer.”

The city council took steps to move the process forward with a resolution on June 7 to wave the standard bidding process. Marshbank was not one of the original bidders for the project, but has done numerous park projects for the city.

“We are pleased the city has selected us to help reopen the park,” said Marshbank Construction owner David Marshbank.

The city has heard from many citizens concerned about the delay in the park opening and other issues surrounding the project. It is also dealing with a time contraint for one of the permints on the construction project as it expires on Aug. 31 for concerns about spawning salmon. Those issues have led the city to expedite the process of finishing a park project that was to be completed by June 1 for Kirkland's annexation celebration.

During a recent council meeting, Spud Fish and Chips owner Larry Marion, whose business is across the street from the park, suggested that the city require the new contractor to put signage out that tells residents the work is under new management and a countdown as to when it will open.

The issue with the park has kept residents from using it and has also become a public-relations problem for the city. But officials have decided to focus on the former instead of the latter to solve the entire issue.

"We want to move quick and cautious about a date," said Cogle. "Once Marshbank gets onsite we will know how long it will take and if there are corrective measures they need to take first. We are hoping to have partial openings during construction and get people out to the waterfront."

Juanita Beach Park has a floating wooden walkway and the beach portion has nearly been completed.

"In early July we will have a better idea of when it will completely open," said Cogle.

Cogle said the city may use sod instead of planting seeds for grass in some areas to hasten the completion of some areas.

Marshbank had been onsite a couple of different times since DMSL was terminated in order to do work to protect the park from erosion issues. The city hired Marshbank for the minor project as some of the previous work done by DMSL Construction could have been compromised by inclement weather. Bad weather has been an issue during the entire project as both the city and DMSL agree that it slowed the project.

But other problems hampered the completion of the project such as a state investigation of DMSL not paying workers and a notice to the city from the Washington State Department of Revenue for a lien against DMSL for back taxes of more than $137,000.

A DMSL spokesperson said the company is working to resolve both issues.

But breaking ties with DMSL is complicated by the $1 million surety bond on the project that is held by Pennsylvania company First Sealord Surety, Inc. Sealord and the city are evaluating what the full cost will be to complete the entire project, including the work to open the beach, and what costs will be the responsibility of the surety.

"We are continuing to have dialogue with First Sealord and we can't predict how quick there will be a resolution," said Cogle. "But we had to balance the bond issue with completing the project."

The city entered into its original contract with DMSL in March of 2010 with a lump sum bid of $1.8 million for the project on the south, or beach, side of the park. DMSL was only compensated for work completed on the project, leaving $448,744. The remaining money will be used to pay Mashbank for completion of the project.

After the south side of the park is completed, the second half of the Juanita Beach Park renovation project will have to be undertaken on the north side of the park. That part of the project will also have to go through a new bidding process.

When asked if DMSL will be considered for that project Cogle said "No. Our relationship with them is done. There are still some legal matters to be figured out, but they will not be doing anymore work for us on this project."

The renovation project is the city’s initial implementation of the Juanita Beach Master Plan. The plan was formally adopted in 2005 following an extensive public participation process. The $2.8 million project is funded in part by the 2002 park bond approved by Kirkland residents. Additional funding is provided from the State of Washington Recreation and Conservation Office ($1 million) and a grant from the King County Flood Control District ($100,000).

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