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Library opening 'put on a shelf'
"POULSBO - Flagg Construction is paying the price for renovation delays at the Kitsap Regional Library in Poulsbo. The $1.6 million project was expected to conclude earlier this month but misunderstandings have since bred discontent between the Kent-based company and the city, pushing the finish date back. As a result, the contracted completion date has come and gone and penalty fees are beginning to mount for Flagg. Adding to the fray is the fact that Flagg this year filed a $130,000 claim against Poulsbo over a discrepancy in the contract as to which party is financially responsible for costs of furniture and shelving at the Lincoln Road site. Poulsbo City Council recently entered into mediation with Flagg in an attempt to resolve the issue and prevent a court battle. However, the longer the contractor delays final work on the project, the larger its fine for liquidated damages will become, according to city engineer John Stephenson. When Flagg was hired last year, the company agreed to a stipulation that, should the project remain unfinished by Sept. 5, 2000, a fine of $500 a day would be imposed. Twenty-five days have passed already and Flagg is looking at $12,500 in overdue fees. Essentially their working days expired on Sept. 5 and for every day that we can't occupy after that, they have to pay these liquidated damages, Stephenson said, noting that Flagg still has a lot of finishing items that need to be addressed. The major one, he added, is the new shelves. While the contractors claim the expensive items rest in the city's lap for resolution, the engineer said the construction costs are Flagg's. The mediation applies to questions they raised early on about who has to pay for the book shelves, Stephenson explained. It's very clear that those things are included in the contract but they're claiming they don't have to pay for them. As long is the issue is unresolved, Flagg's fine will grow. Delays on the much-anticipated project are causing a stir in the community which has poured out its heart and wallet in a show of support. The North Kitsap Friends of the Library recently announced indefinite postponement of its grand opening celebration. The event, scheduled initially for Oct. 21 and 22, has been canceled until further notice. We have to postpone the grand opening until November and possibly even until December, explained Barbara Monks, president of the Friends. We hope to notify the public when we have a better date. Monk, who has discussed the issue with librarian Susan Lavin, said employees had expressed some reservations about moving into an unfinished site. I know they're concerned about getting all the books in, Monks explained, noting the shelf situation. Stacking them on the floor just isn't going to work, Lavin pointed out. It's looking really good though. We just have to wait for that shelving before we move in - but you know construction projects. So does Stephenson. There's an obvious delay, he observed, adding that despite this, work was progressing well on landscaping and the library's exterior. Citing a recent memo from the shelving company, Stephenson said shipping of the final product could take over 30 days. This timeline could improve though. I think that will dictate the opening, he said, agreeing with Lavin's assessment. But the last word I had from the supplier was that the shelves would be shipped sometime in mid-October. If that's the case, and Stephenson's estimates of one to two weeks installation time hold, Flagg could be looking at anywhere from $20,000-$27,000 in fines - or worse. Bruce Sparling, vice president of Flagg Construction, did not return phone calls on the matter prior to the Herald's Friday deadline. "