Elmwood, La. -- A deal to ensure completion of the Jefferson Parish Performing Arts Center by next summer has been initialed by the contractor and parish attorneys.
The Parish Council went behind closed doors during Wednesday's meeting to discuss the agreement reached between contractor Joe Caldarera and parish lawyers. When council members resumed the public meeting, a resolution that would have put Caldarera in default was canceled by the council.
The agreement calls for Caldarera to be paid an additional $9.8 million to complete construction of the center. Ground was broken for the project in 2007.
Though the parties have "initialed" the agreement, it cannot be officially signed until it is reviewed by the parish's "change order" committee, which will likely meet next week.
"We're on a path forward to complete this project, the Jefferson Performing Arts Center, and we inherited this …we've worked very closely with our Engineering Department, Public Works Department, outside engineers, the council, the contractor and his counsel to resolve this matter," said Parish President John Young.
Caldarera said a lot of "I's" had to be dotted to reach agreement.
"There was a discussion about whether or not you could proceed with the project on the basis of just some agreement, when in fact the public bid law requires that a change order is the only mechanism to change a project's sum or the contract time. And so we indicated we would agree to an agreement in conjunction with a change order -- the change order has to be first," Caldarera said.
Young said the state will provide $6 million of the additional $9 million needed. He said the parish will provide funds, as well.
Caldarera said there have been 508 revised drawings for the project.
"This project had a lot of issues with it from the get-go and again we inherited it, but at the same time it was not a viable, or prudent option to not finish it," said Young.
Caldarera insists he was never in default of his contract. "Some of the things that are being said, I've not really stepped up and addressed it because I just don't want any controversy, But the fact remains, there was no reason for default. We asked them, if you have reason, cite it, and they did not, there are none. We have patiently agreed to proceed, and have done so, never stopped working," he said.
When ground was broken for the project in 2007, the project's cost was put at $26.5 million. It has since ballooned to over $50 million.