City to seek damages for airport terminal delays

ALBANY, Ga. -- Assistant Albany City Attorney Chamire Chisolm told the Albany-Dougherty Aviation Commission Monday the city will be seeking liquidated damages for delays in obtaining a certificate of occupancy for the new terminal at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

Albany architect David Maschke, hired as a subcontracting architectural consultant by The LPA Group of Columbia, S.C., to assist with inspections at the facility, said the city had agreed to extend the CO deadline for Walbridge Contracting of Tampa, Fla., from June 12 to July 5 but that circumstances surrounding the company's failure to complete the project by that date had become "one of those circumstances that can get a little sticky."

Chisolm then told the board the city would seek damages, as provided by its contract with Walbridge.

"The city attorney's office is working on a letter to send to the contractor letting them know we do expect to seek liquidated damages (for the terminal project)," Chisolm said. "As provided by the contract, we expect to seek $1,500 a day from June 5 until the project is done."

Maschke told the Aviation Commission he expects the facility to obtain a CO by this morning or "Wednesday morning at the latest." Maschke deflected a question from board member Sanford Hillsman about "failed" inspections.

"I wouldn't say any of the inspections were failed," Maschke said. "I'd say (the contractor) hasn't satisfied all the requirements needed to obtain the CO."

Maschke said after the meeting the blame for all of the delays could not be attributed strictly to Walbridge.

"There were definitely extenuating circumstances," he said. "There were items legitimately added at the end of the job by inspectors as safety measures, and I think it's reasonable to say the contractor is entitled to some consideration for weather-related delays.

"I would fully expect the city to pursue the liquidated damages, though, because they're looking out for the welfare of the city as to what the contract provides. I think the way things will go is that the city will notify the contractor that it plans to assess liquidated damages, and the contractor typically responds with a letter asking the city to consider the extenuating circumstances."

Maschke said he would not speculate as to the outcome of what would essentially be a negotiated settlement between the city and Walbridge.

Also at the meeting, which was moved from the new terminal back to the McAfee Terminal conference room because of the ongoing work on the facility, the board voted to accept a $1.5 million FAA grant that will be used for Phase III of ongoing airport improvements. Phase III includes extension of the airport's parking apron and demolition of the existing terminal building.

The commission also approved a draft review of bylaws it has been considering for several months.