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Community Center settles in, too much

Sunken pavers around the Community Center at Mercer View indicate that the ground underneath the terrace has settled too much. The area has been in dispute before. - Jenny Manning/Staff Photo
Sunken pavers around the Community Center at Mercer View indicate that the ground underneath the terrace has settled too much. The area has been in dispute before.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Staff Photo

Sunken pavers on the terrace at the Community Center at Mercer View (CCMV) is fast becoming an “issue of appearance and safety,” said Bruce Fletcher, director of Parks and Recreation.

The CCMV was completed in late 2005.

A geotechnical engineer from Hart Crowser, Inc., of Seattle, drilled several core samples from the patio and found “non-compacted and insufficient subgrade that will continue to settle.”

City staff and CCMV architect Margaret Sprung came to the same conclusion after viewing the samples, said Fletcher.

“The fill was junk,” he said. “It was no good.”

Although the settling subgrade is a result of shoddy work by the original contractor, Swinerton, the city will be left with the bill this time, Fletcher said.

Due to a 2007 settlement against Swinerton for other issues at the community center, the city is unable to pursue another claim.

The estimated repairs are expected to run at $50,000.

“No one here is happy about this and we never will be,” he said.

Council member Mike Cero pointed out that the settled pavers are currently “hidden” by selectively placed planters and wondered if that might not be a less expensive option.

Fletcher countered that the planters themselves could be a tripping hazard and the ground will continue to settle.

GLY Construction Inc., of Bellevue, submitted a $47,000 proposal to repair the terrace by removing the pavers, excavation of the soil and installation of a six-inch cement slab reinforced with rebar.

Funds for the unanticipated expense are available through the Real Estate Excise Tax, or REET, he said, calling the repairs an “investment.”

Last year, a decline in REET receipts prompted a $60,000 freeze in minor park improvements, he said, adding that Finance Director Chip Porter has revised the REET projections. Up to $174,000 in budgeted expenditures can be unfrozen, he said.

The $50,000 for park improvements could be “re-programmed” to fund the community center repairs, Fletcher said.

Council member Mike Cero called the action “taking from Peter to pay Paul.”

Cero wasn’t the only skeptic. Council member Mike Grady also seemed wary of Fletcher’s proposal.

“It sounds like we need to do a little more homework and bring it back,” he said.

Despite the skepticism, the City Council voted 5-1 to reduce the 2009-2010 minor park improvement project budget by $50,000 and use the money to repair the community center terrace.

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