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BPU commission authorizes second partial payment for dam work

The Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) Commission unanimously agreed Thursday to pay Park Construction another $30,000 for its work on the hydrodam. The dollar amount was agreed upon at a March 2 mediation session by Jeff Carlson, president of Park ...

The Brainerd Public Utilities (BPU) Commission unanimously agreed Thursday to pay Park Construction another $30,000 for its work on the hydrodam.

The dollar amount was agreed upon at a March 2 mediation session by Jeff Carlson, president of Park Construction, and Bill Wroolie, a BPU commissioner, and came before the full commission in closed session for approval.

The partial payment is the second one approved since Park Construction leadership appeared before the commission in January, demanding $554,000 they said they were owed for work on the dam apron. Company leadership hinted at a possible lawsuit should BPU fail to pay.

Since then, the parties have met in mediation sessions in an attempt to resolve the dispute. In February, BPU agreed to pay $380,000 to the company, covering past work at the dam site and some work that had not yet been completed. Work was completed on the apron at the end of March, in time to prepare the dam for the impending spring thaw.

The partial payment authorized Thursday does not represent a full resolution of the disagreement and mediation will continue, said Scott Magnuson, BPU supervisor. Many of the details of the dispute will continue to be withheld until a final agreement.

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There is no date set for the next meeting between the parties. Included in the agreement was a provision noting by agreeing to the payment, the BPU commission was not admitting fault and should the dispute reach court, BPU is free to argue for the return of the money paid should they find reason.

The disagreement over payment stems from different readings of the company's contract to complete the repair work by officials from Barr Engineering and Park Construction. Payments were withheld because of "nonconformance issues" on the $2.4 million project.

The project was originally scheduled for completion by Nov. 28, 2014, but high water levels caused delays several times. In October, officials on the project determined the apron was not 4 feet thick in every area, as was originally thought. This meant the original project design would need alteration and a temporary fix to prepare the hydrodam for spring became the focus.

A more permanent fix needs study and it will be six months to a year before officials know what work needs to be done at the site, Magnuson said.

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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