Aug 11, 2022 - News

Penalties mount for late Des Moines park project

Hold your pee. The completion of this bathroom at Des Moines' Witmer Park is more than 70 days late. (This is how it looked a week ago.) Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Graphite Construction faces at least $35,500 in penalties for failing to complete a Des Moines park project on time.

Driving the news: Witmer Park's $560,000 playground and restroom project was supposed to be ready to go by May 31. But more than two months later, the park isn't finished.

  • Liquidated damages are $500 a day, according to the city contract.

State of play: The city's legal department last year advised the city council that they are bound by a 2017 state law that restricts a local government's review of a bidder's qualifications.

  • Concerns about the contractor's track record in some other projects should not be considered in awarding the park contract to the lowest bidder, council members were told.

Catch up quick: Graphite, formerly the Rochon Corporation, is accused of being late or providing unsatisfactory work at new fire stations in DSM and Urbandale.

  • A $750,000 settlement in June resolved outstanding payments due to the company but was less than was originally contracted, Urbandale city manager A.J. Johnson told Axios this week.
  • Final payment negotiations linked with a DSM fire station that was last year completed more than three months late are ongoing, Peter Zemansky, a spokesperson for the city, told Axios this week.

What's next: Plumbing work continues and the city hopes Witmer’s bathrooms will open this month, city engineer Steve Naber told Axios.

  • Graphite officials did not return multiple inquiries from Axios during the last week.
A playground at Des Moines' Witmer Park.
The playground portion of the Witmer Park project is open. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

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