BY LEANN DILBECK –
Just days before officials from Arkansas State Parks are to appear before the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee in Mena concerning multiple delays and a termination of contract with the contractor on the $7.4 million renovation to Queen Wilhelmina Lodge, a “good news” e-mail citing notable progress in negotiations was sent to Representative Nate Bell, January 25.
In the e-mail, Arkansas State Parks Director Greg Butts says, “After lengthy legal reviews from both parties that commenced November 15, 2013, Travelers and ADPT [Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism who Arkansas State Park operates under] agreed to the Takeover Agreement terms and conditions January 17. Subsequently, Travelers completed negotiations and entered into a contract with Nabholz Construction Services (NCS) and we signed the Takeover Agreement with Travelers January 21st.”
Butts also provided a new completion date that will be after peak fall foliage but will still be welcomed news to the local region who depends largely on the tourism traffic generated from the lodge that sits on top of Arkansas’ second highest peak. “The new lodge renovation completion date is November 30, 2014 and it is estimated it will take approximately a month for the contractor to mobilize and two months for the mold remediation plan work. There is interior and exterior work that must be completed before the mold remediation work commences.”
Butts also explained in the e-mail that incentives are included in the construction contract with Nabholz, which will include financial incentives for completing the work before November 30th and penalties after November 30th. “We will provide detailed timelines to the State Agencies and Government Affairs Legislative Committee’s January 30th meeting in Mena, which will chronicle issues with the terminated contractor Wade Abernathy Inc. and investigations by and our negotiations with Travelers.”
The House and Senate Committees on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs and the Advanced Communications and Information Technology Joint Committees will meet Thursday and Friday to discuss delayed construction on the lodge at Queen Wilhelmina State Park and to hear updates from AT&T concerning the area’s broadband internet access. Thursday, January 30th the meeting will be held at 1:30 at the Armory at 601 Dequeen St. and the public is invited to sit in. Friday the 31st, the meeting will be held at 9am at Queen Wilhelmina State Park but for safety precautions the public will not be allowed for the walk-through.
Butts expressed his confidence in the new contractor, Nabholz Construction Services [NCS], “NCS has extensive experience and they are known for completing projects on time and doing quality work. We look forward to working with them and know that they’ll do it right.”