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American River Messenger

Village Renovation within Budget Despite Construction Delays

Dec 06, 2023 11:11AM ● By Shaunna Boyd

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - The Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District’s plan for an integrated park complex in the Village – involving upgrades to Village and Plaza parks, renovation of the Veterans Memorial Amphitheatre, and improvements to the Community Clubhouse – has been in the works for several years now. The three separate projects are being done concurrently to maximize the use of funding and reduce impact in the Village, so no work could commence until the plans for all three were approved. Delays throughout the pandemic slowed down the review and approval process with the County, so construction couldn’t begin until June 2022. District Administrator Mike Aho explained that with such an ambitious and expansive project, many other surprises have cropped up during the construction process, leading to further delays.

The project was expected to be completed by February 2024, but that estimate has now been pushed to November 2024. Aho said that the contractor, Bobo Construction, has been working quickly and efficiently in what has proven to be a complicated project on a difficult site. The parks in the Village were built bit by bit over the years, beginning in 1947, so there was “no uniformity of standards” throughout the site, said Aho. As construction commenced, issues were found that had to be addressed immediately before further work could continue.

Updating the electrical system turned into a major problem when they discovered an existing line was buried far lower than allowed by current standards. They had to dig it out and reinstall it at the correct location – unanticipated additional work that took two extra months to complete.

An existing water line was also in an unsuitable location, so that had to be reinstalled under the street, in a public right of way, so it can be appropriately accessed by the water company in the future without tearing up the new park.

Extreme rainstorms early this year also caused significant delays to the construction timeline. The amount of standing water made the site unworkable, and even after pumping out millions of gallons of water, they still had to wait until the ground was solid enough to safely hold the heavy equipment. Aho estimated that 97 days of work were lost due to the extreme storms.

And that torrential rain also impacted work at the Community Clubhouse, with water flooding into the basement. As they worked to solve the issue, they discovered that part of the building’s foundation was supported by boulders. Engineers and hydrologists were brought in to assess, because it could become “a permanent problem if you don’t do it right,” said Aho.

The first phase of the road re-paving was undertaken the week of Halloween, but Bobo Construction identified issues in the grade of the road, so if the work went forward, it wouldn’t meet the standards of the Sacramento County Department of Transportation.  The roadway paving has been postponed pending further design and review, as well as negotiations with the County regarding cost-sharing for the improvements. The District’s architects and engineers, in cooperation with the County, are working to update plans, but the roads in the Village will likely remain open through the winter.

Aho also cautioned that it is expected to be another very wet winter, so it is possible that heavy rains could cause even more delays. But Bobo Construction is working to get as much done as they can before the site becomes unusable due to standing water.

The numerous issues uncovered during the construction process have pushed back the expected date of completion, but the delay will not trigger financial penalties for Bobo Construction. While the District’s contract with Bobo does stipulate daily financial penalties if the work is not completed within the expected timeline, Aho explained that those penalties are not imposed if the issues are beyond the contractor’s control, such as weather, utility issues, and owner-caused changes. Aho said, “All three of those things have occurred.”

Each aspect of the project is built upon the work that came before, and doing the work out of order can end up wasting both time and money. Sometimes, from the outside, it may look like work is not moving forward, but things have to be done in the appropriate order or you’d be skipping crucial steps, Aho explained. Construction must follow the “critical path,” he said, and sometimes that path leads to unavoidable delays. But the project is currently still expected to be within budget, and when construction is completed, Aho said that residents can be sure that the work has been done right.