City to pay another $681,000 as Oxford starts over on sports complex
by Eddie Burkhalter
Jan 23, 2013 | 8428 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A sign at the site of the long-delayed Oxford sports complex is shown in this 2010 file photo. (Photo by Star staff)
A sign at the site of the long-delayed Oxford sports complex is shown in this 2010 file photo. (Photo by Star staff)
OXFORD — The long-suffering sports complex project in Oxford has been put to sleep, at least in its current form. It’s to be reborn in the coming months with new plans and a new company to build the facility.

After spending more than three quarters of $1 million in construction delay fees and permit fees, the Oxford City Council voted Tuesday to terminate the contract with Taylor Corporation, the company under contract to build the sports complex. The project was first proposed in 2004.

The project will move forward with a new set of architectural plans, currently being drafted by the engineering firm Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, Inc.

But the move will still cost the city an additional $681,000. The site must be returned to pre-construction state at a cost of $411,000, and another $270,000 will have to be paid to Taylor Corp. just to terminate the existing contract.

The project has been on hold since February 2010, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered the city to cease work at the site after the corps learned that human remains had been found at the site, and that the proper authorities had not been notified.

A wetlands permit held by Oxford states that the corps must be notified if human remains or artifacts are found at the site.

The council in September 2012 approved a $472,417 change order to Taylor for 20 months’ worth of previous contract delay and permit fees on the project. Prior to that change order, Oxford had already paid approximately $400,000 to Taylor in project shutdown fees.

The city in 2010 hired Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood to draft a mitigation plan that would allow the city to restart the project. That plan included a full archeological survey of the site and steps to take if human remains or archeological items are found.

Plans for the 361-acre park, to be built on the historic Davis Farm across from the Oxford Exchange, include football, baseball, softball and soccer fields.

Attempts Tuesday to reach and Lance Taylor, president of Taylor Corp., were unsuccessful.

Fred Denney, Oxford’s project manager said Tuesday that the city had fallen into a dispute with the firm that drafted the original plans for the sports complex. The city of Oxford filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the Tennessee architectural firm Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon, demanding $2 million in damages the city stated was a result of alleged negligence that resulted in those costly fees after ancient human remains were found at a site.

“They ended up in a dispute with them, so they’re going to shut down that project and will start all over with brand new plans,” Denney said.

The city will have to rebid the project once plans are complete, which Denney said would likely be in April.

After voting unanimously to sever ties with Taylor Corp., Council President Steven Waits announced the council would head into two separate closed executive sessions “to discuss the general reputation and character of certain individuals, and also to discuss with our attorney legal ramifications.”

Under Alabama open meetings laws councils may enter into executive session to discuss the character of certain, but not all, persons.

When asked if the person to be discussed in the executive session was a city employee, which would be allowed under state law, Waits declined to comment.

Entering into the executive session with the council and mayor was Eric Brewer of WR Oxford, the company that is currently developing the Oxford Commons retail complex.

Officials declined to comment on Brewer’s presence in the closed session.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.
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