Eastern Wake News

Knightdale settles with former contractor over First Avenue dispute

Despite a beautifully paved road adjacent to Knightdale Station Park, the town didn’t quite enjoy a smooth ride with the contractor who constructed them.

Two years after a contracting company completed work for the second phase of the First Avenue project in downtown Knightdale, the town settled a dispute outside of court between the two parties.

As a result, the town paid out $14,500, which still brought their project under budget.

In 2012, the town hired contractor J.W. Grand, Inc. to assist with landscaping and hardscaping along First Avenue, a project to complement Knightdale Station Park. The total project ran along First Avenue from Main Street to what is now Knightdale Station Run.

The project was funded by a grant through the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Although they began the project in January 2013, work took until July 2013 to complete, three and a half months past the date the work was scheduled to be completed.

Because of the contractor’s tardiness, the town penalized them the equivalent of $11,000 in compensation, witholding that amount until they finished the job – a common practice among municipalities.

“It was in our best interest with the value left on the contract to withhold it rather than to pay them and hope we get it back,” said Town Engineer Fred Boone.

At the end of the project, in a conference with the town, contractor and the NCDOT, the contractor demanded to recoup the fee in addition to some other claims.

Overall, the project still came under budget even after the settlement, according to Town Manager Seth Lawless.

Interestingly, J.W. Grand, Inc., no longer has an office in the Triangle. The Knightdale project was their last in the area, and the town actually had to contract out from their Louisiana headquarters for the tail end of the project.

“We didn’t have actual closeout conference until August 2014 for various reasons,” Boone said.

At the conference, the NCDOT had a hearing for the claims, and offered the contractor $9,500 back as a settlement.

“The contractor refused and refused to close out,” Boone said.

From there, it’s the responsibility of the municipality to settle. After “a lot of back and forth” – the contractor suggesting $19,500 which Knightdale rejected – they decided to settle on $14,500.

“They were recouping liquid damages and a portion of one of their claims was recognized as valid,” Boone said.