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City terminates contract with DPPD firing range contractor

Written by Bobby Vasquez. Posted in News

gunrangeexampleIN NEWS
After months of delays and improper work, city council and the Crime Control and Prevention District both unanimously voted to terminate the contract for construction of the Deer Park Police Department firing range and training center. At a joint meeting, council and the CCPD heard a list of ongoing and unresolved issues with the contractor regarding the overdue project.

Gun Range incompleteThe morning after City Council and the Crime Control and Prevention District unanimously agreed to terminate the contract for construction, the overdue and incomplete Deer Park Police Department firing range and training center sits empty on the 100 block of Luella. The city terminated the contract with IKLO after months of delays, unfulfilled promises and other issues. Photo by Andrew Pressley.Deer Park City Council and the Crime Control and Prevention District both unanimously agreed to terminate a contract with IKLO after a series of delays, unfulfilled promises and missed deadlines have pushed the construction of the Deer Park Police firing range and training center 10 days overdue and counting.

The decision came at a joint a meeting last week. City staff are still determining the amount of work performed correctly and how much more, if any, it would cost to complete the project.

City Manager Jay Stokes said issues began with day one with the contractor and the city’s letter of termination will cite specific items as just cause for terminating the contract.

“We’ve had scheduling issues, issues with the quality of work, the construction schedule has not followed, the work has been poor, the staffing that they have provided has been lacking based on what the contract requires, they have not sent qualifications of key staff that we’ve asked for for months and months,” said Stokes. “The pattern has gone on and on. Staff has lost all ability to think that this contractor will follow through and complete the job as they are required to do.”

Because the city terminated the contractor for cause, it will have the ability to hire its own company to complete the work without having to redraw plans or rebid the project.

Stokes said the city has not taken steps to discuss or hire a contractor to complete to project and could not do so until after the current contractor was removed from the project.

The city broke ground on the project on the far north end of Luella in May of last year, and its completion was a primary goal of the Crime Control and Prevention District.

City staff have been working on the range since 2011, when the project was proposed as a key element of the initial CCPD project list, toward researching other training facilities, contacting other police departments to determine best practices, securing a location

In April of last year, both City Council and the CCPD Board approved the budget amendments necessary for the City to award a construction bid for the facility. The total cost of the project – which will include the gun range, a training building, a facility parking area, irrigation and landscaping, and contingency funds – is $2,731,100.

Including a change order, construction was supposed to take 390 days.

Now, more than 440 days later, the firing range facility is only about 70 percent complete, according to Brent Coslow, assistant public works director.

Stokes said the decision to take action on termination is not a knee jerk reaction.

“In the first three months, we asked them repeatedly to get onsite and get going. They didn’t actually start physical construction until 60-90 days into the job,” said Coslow.

The actual building is up, some painting is complete and tile has been laid. There are some electrical connections installed as well.

Berms, necessary to protect neighboring properties from bullets have been built, but not to specifications. There are problems with drainage and an onsite detention pond was not constructed correctly.

“The fence is somewhat up to keep people out, but if someone wanted to get in there, they could,” said Coslow.

“They have a tendency to say “we’ll get it done by Friday,’ then another Friday goes by and it’s still not done.”

According to Coslow, IKLO contractors said weather has been a problem and requested 80 rain days, but only about half that amount is actually warranted.

“We’ve worked with them for several months to address many issues. We’re at our wit’s end. We don’t know what else to do to finish the project. Even if we gave them the rain days, the project would still be 10 days over,” he said.

The city could exercise a performance bond on the project, but doing so would remove city control on the project going forward, said Assistant City Manager Gary Jackson.

The bonding company would select its own contractor to complete the job. Jackson said the option would be explored and the city would not rule out claiming the bond.

IKLO has only been paid for benchmarks completed correctly.

Deer Park Police Chief Greg Grigg said he was not yet sure how the termination will affect future training for the city’s police officers. The department has agreements in place with other training centers for gun range time.

Last year, Grigg told council that DPPD having its own facility would alleviate areas where department personnel were undertrained.

DPPD had gun ranges shut down in 1996, 2000 and 2004, Grigg said.

“The berms were built up and people were still saying bullets were getting out of the place, so then-Police Chief Bill Young had it taken down,” he said at the meeting.

Since that time, DPPD personnel have been going to the Pasadena and Houston Community College gun ranges. However, most other departments do not have ranges, which causes competition to schedule training time with PPD and HCC.