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McFee Park sparks grass grumble


At its Sept. 11 meeting, Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen heard from Associate Town Administrator Gary Palmer regarding an emergency purchasing contract.

The contract was for sod to be laid at McFee Park on the athletic fields.

“The emergency was determined by me in collaboration with department directors. I determined it to be an emergency because if we had not reacted immediately to this situation … we would have lost an entire season of play on the field,” Palmer said.

The park’s fields are set to open Spring 2009.

“We would have lost revenue. There would have been a ripple effect with scheduling and staff time to reorganize … we would have had an overall loss of service to the citizens,” Palmer added.


Danco Construction was originally awarded the contract for sprigging the field. According to Town staff, the Bermuda grass was not planted in accordance with Town specifications.

“Staff came to me. They were highly concerned after the initial inspection [Aug. 17] … they concluded the condition of the grass on the field was not sufficiently covering the field such that it met the specifications,” said Town Attorney Tom Hale.

“They concluded the grade on the field was not within the tolerance because the grass had not been there in large portions of the field to keep the water from rushing the dirt on the field away.

“This field would not be ready for play in the spring under its current condition without taking immediate steps to get the field sodded,” Hale added.

Rather than losing the spring season, Town staff delivered a “detailed letter,” 28 pages, to Danco Construction, Thursday, Aug. 28, laying out “exactly what we expected needed to be done.” They requested a response by Tuesday, Sept. 2. Town received none.

“We only had until about September the 20th to get anything done in order to establish any kind of ground cover so that by the spring it would be a usable field.

“That would not have been sufficient time to just go in and sprig and do a little extra work,” Hale said.

Sept. 5, Palmer authorized Charles Williams Associates, LLC, to sod and re-grade the fields to correct the problem. The emergency contract was in the amount of $44,970.90.

“This has taken an inordinate amount of everybody’s time in the past week. … The Town will probably address this in more detail in executive session because this is a matter that could end up in litigation,” he added.

Later, the Board did recess into executive session. Following his report, Hale allowed Sam Daniel, from Danco, to address the Board.

“My purpose in being here is to hopefully resolve any dispute,” and to avoid litigation, Daniel said.

According to Daniel, the sprigging was done to specifications and cited the opinion of four “experts in the Bermuda grass field” on the athletic fields’ grass growth.

He also showed Board members a photograph of the fields, taken Sept. 11, showing grass growth.

Public Works Director Bud McKelvey said the photo was taken more than a month after the inspection and at an angle where bare spots were not shown.

According to Daniel, Danco has spent three times the original bid of $12,000 to complete the fields “in an effort of good will.” He said the Bermuda sprigs would have filled in bare spots.

“We made many attempts to contact the city [Farragut] … and we were told repeatedly that we would not be spoken to,” Daniel said of Danco’s response to Town staff’s 28-page letter. He also said Danco was denied meeting with Town staff and were not allowed on the work site as of Monday, Sept. 8.

“I don’t think the Town has treated us fairly,” Daniel said.

“We are still willing to perform that work,” he added.

“Obviously, there must now be a difference of opinion … In the meantime, action has been taken by the Town for correction, in a path I assume we will follow,” said Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III.

 

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