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Sue architect, city manager urges
New Port Richey will consider suing over the over-budget recreation and aquatics complex.
By JODIE TILLMAN
Published June 15, 2007
NEW PORT RICHEY - City administrators are pushing for a lawsuit against the architect who worked on the new recreation complex, saying the company made "numerous errors" that cost the city as much as $500,000.
City Manager Scott Miller will ask the City Council next week for permission to "proceed legally" against Harper Aiken Donahue and Partners, a 50-year-old firm with its main offices in Tampa, Miami and Atlanta.
In a memo to the council, Miller said the $14.1-million recreation and aquatics complex that opened last month is "absolutely beautifully designed." But Harper Aiken, he wrote, made costly errors that resulted in "excessive change orders" with the contractor.
A rough estimate of those change orders adds up to an extra $350, 000 to $500, 000 that the city had to spend, Miller said.
"It is our position that the architect should be held financially responsible, " Miller wrote in the June 13 memo.
In an attachment to the memo, Miller included a list of 52 "architect errors, " which include:
- $260, 000 for problems with the original bathroom designs.
- $15, 000 for the purchase of additional pool heaters after the original plans turned out to be too small.
- And $14, 795 to change pool piping so that it met code.
Miller's memo said City Attorney Tom Morrison had advised him that "there is a reasonable likelihood that the city would prevail in a claim for recovery of its damages."
An assistant to Robert Bitterli, senior vice president at the architectural firm, said he was in a presentation Thursday evening and could not be reached for comment.
City Council member Bob Consalvo said he would withhold judgment about a legal challenge until he knew more from city administrators.
As former parks and recreation director, he said he knew only about the issue of the architect not including enough bathrooms to meet state health codes. "That was definitely the error of the architect, " he said.
Next week's meeting at City Hall begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Jodie Tillman covers the city of New Port Richey. She can be reached at 727 869-6247 or firstname.lastname@example.org.