City says faulty fountain is another botched project

City says faulty fountain is another botched project

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by Andrea Lutz

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBandrealutz

KTVB.COM

Posted on April 30, 2012 at 9:51 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 10 at 4:46 AM

MERIDIAN – The ongoing legal battle over the construction of Meridian's $21 million, 4-year-old city hall continues.

Now, there' s a new chapter.

Last week the city removed a leaking water fountain, which officials say is yet another flawed aspect of the building's construction.

In June 2011, the City of Meridian lost a lawsuit to Petra Inc., the Meridian company that oversaw the construction of the new facility.

Now, because of the continued problems -- including the leaky fountain -- city officials say they wil appeal that ruling.

A history of agriculture

The fountain paid homage to the history of Meridian's canal system, and stretched across the plaza lawn, greeting visitors to Meridian City Hall.

However, Meridian City Attorney Bill Nary said Monday the fountain never worked properly from the start. Nary said problems with the fountain included decaying capstones and water seeping through the brick.

“We are concerned about the public safety because the bricks and capstones were decaying and falling off and kids would climb on it and they were concerned that somebody would get injured,” said Nary.

A history of problems

The City of Meridian moved into the $21 million facility in October of 2008. In November of 2009, the city filed a lawsuit against Petra Inc., seeking $8.5 million dollars in damages along with compensation for a breach of contract connected with a list of damages.

“We were dissatisfied that the public really got what they had paid for because we had a number of errors in the construction of the building,” said Nary.

The lawsuit claimed the roof leaked, the ventilation system was flawed, and the water fountains in the plaza had begun to deteriorate.

However, a district court judge disagreed with the city's stance in June of 2011, citing the fact that Meridian's city hall construction was a "fast track" project.

City officials like Nary now say the removal of the fountain is yet another reason the city shouldn't be satisfied with the judge’s ruling.

That's why they're appealing their case to the Idaho State Supreme Court.

Where'd it go?

“I didn't realize it was gone until I just walked up,” said Meridian resident Keith Booker Monday afternoon outside city hall.

Booker  was just one of many residents that told Channel 7 he was sad to see the fountain go.

“Well I think it was really nice…” Booker said. “I guess if they can make it look halfway decent it will be okay.”

Others weren't so sure.

“I think they could have put a little money in to it or charge the homeowners a little more for taxes and fix it,” said Meridian resident Michelle Kester.

Yet, members of the Meridian City Council have already considered that idea, and agree that the cost to build a new fountain or repair the existing one would end up costing the city thousands more than it should spend.

“They were really left with one of three choices: they could either repair it, to make it function as it was intended, or they could replace it, which would be probably the most expensive option, or they could just simply remove it,” Nary said.

The city opted to remove it.

Nary says the city's new plan is to cover the area with grass and trees, and include more seating for community events. There are no future plans to replace the fountain.

Meanwhile, the city's lawsuit appeal moves to the Idaho State Supreme Court. There is no court date set just yet, but they expect the move to happen in the fall.

KTVB reached out to Petra Inc. but they declined to comment pending the litigation.

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