BY LEANN DILBECK –
Work remains at a standstill at Queen Wilhelmina Lodge on its $6.7 million renovation/expansion project that began in March 2012. The Arkansas State Parks terminated its contract with Wade Abernathy, Inc. (W.A.I.) August 30 for “performance issues,” according to Gregg Butts, Director of the Arkansas State Parks.
Butts had said that a new licensed contractor would take over the job within 10 business days from the date of termination but to date, no new contractor has been named.
Travelers Insurance is the surety on the bond and Butts said they are conducting their own investigation. He said that his staff has submitted all photographs, reports, and other documentation over to them to confirm the alleged grounds for the termination.
Travelers Insurance has retained a construction consulting firm, Vertex, based out of Irving, Texas to assist with the analysis of the documentation.
Butts explained that he is confident in the department’s justification to terminate the contract but that the procedure to move forward is complex. A meeting had been previously scheduled for today, Wednesday, September 18, in which State Parks was to be informed of the status of the investigation so that negotiations to move the project forward could be determined but The Pulse just confirmed that meeting will not be taking place, nor has a new meeting date been set. Butts said that he has sent correspondence to Travelers in an effort to get the project moving but for now, it appears that the much anticipated project is now stuck in a web of red tape.
The lodge closed in March 2012 and was originally scheduled to re-open by summer 2013 but that date was delayed until Fall 2013 and then announced in July that it had been pushed forward again to early 2014. The lodge is considered to be the “crown-jewel” of the local tourism industry.
Butts said the goal of his department is to complete the project as soon as possible so “families can return to making memories at Queen Wilhelmina as they have been doing for decades.”
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