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LETTER: Centennial Park upgrades too costly

'This project performance was totally unacceptable'

PelhamToday received the following letter to the editor regarding renovations in Centennial Park:

The citizens of Pelham can now use the disabled washroom at Centennial Park in Fenwick. On May 29, 2024 the paving was applied around the construction site. The problem with the access to the washroom (which was built to design) was reconstructed under the direction of Pelham staff and not charged to the original construction contract. A barrier wall was constructed to the south and east (extended about 4’ to design) of the ramp and also to serve as a safety guard.

The cost of the reconstruction (estimate $10,000-plus) was not assigned to the project, but manipulated into the Public Works 2024 budget. The Lions Clubs have been able to use their updated canteen with the extended canopy since their first spring fish fry.

On April 16, 2024, I sent the email below to Mayor Marvin Junkin and Town councillors which provides more details on the project. After repeated follow-up, I finally received a reply on May 1, 2024 from CAO David Cribbs. He admits that the project was not well executed and “In summary, we learn from challenges and difficult files and while many problems were on the private side of this project, the municipality is looking to improve.” He comments that the Town will be making changes to their purchasing process and staff responsibilities and communication to ensure this situation does not repeat.

In conclusion, this project cost the Town of Pelham in total almost $500,000 (all engineering and architect fees, original contract plus changes, and the Town reconstruction.) Mayor Junkin and council have strongly advised Town staff that this project performance was totally unacceptable.


Good morning Mayor Marv,

We have communicated on this project since back in October 2023 and the saga continues. I have also been in regular contact with Councillors Hildebrandt and Niznik on the progress and concerns.

The original project RFP called for the substantial completion to be Dec. 31, 2023.  It is now April 15, 2024 and the project is still NOT COMPLETE. The Q1 2024 Public Works Quarterly Report on the Council Agenda for April 17, 2024 is NOT CORRECT and was NOT substantially completed by March 28, 2024.  I know several Councillors have been asking questions and progress with limited positive response.   The project contract was released in October/23 and it is has been more than 6 months.

The cost of the project original budget was $185K. The RFP was issued and only one bid was received for $375K and with addition of architectural and engineering services the total cost was $422,542. At the Council meeting on October 18, 2023 the Council approved the project after a strong recommendation by Teresa Quinlan Murphy- Town Treasurer. The warning presented was if you do not approve, the Town will lose $250K in grants (2 in total).  The price has now escalated further with foundation problems and other issues and the total cost is now $480- 500K.  The price is outrageous and more than $300 K over budget.

There is one MAJOR issue that is outstanding and it is the access to the Handicap Washroom. Based on the current build the handicap person using the sidewalk from the west side cannot access the door button (east side of door) because the door opens into their travel path. There is also no guardrail and the sidewalk is 8-12” above grade. How did this design ever get approved and a building permit issued? Were proper engineering drawings ever submitted?  These problems still need to be addressed, engineered, and constructed. How much will this cost and who pays?

I know there was a lot of discussion about the roof shingles for the complete facility with additions on each end.  The Council only approved new shingles for the additions- color mismatch will be OK. If you look at the roof lines, they do not line up at either end- offset why?  How about a privacy screen for the HC washroom entrance?

Based on the above details Town Council needs to hold those responsible for this project that has been a challenge from the start to completion- date pending. There are several critical questions that need to be investigated and answered with corrective action.

  1. Was the RFP process done correctly- with complete engineering drawings reviewed and approved, specs, engineering tests, etc.?  Why did it take from April- Oct (6 months) to get RFP process completed? Why did only one company (Niacon) submit a bid- incomplete bid package, unrealistic time schedule?  

  2. Who approved the engineering package drawings ad specs- Town staff? Was the design reviewed with the Accessibility Committee? Was all the approved information provided to the Town Building Dept. before a permit was issued?

  3. The project schedule has been a total lack of project management- 12+ months to design and build a 130 sq. ft. HC washroom and an estimated 375 sq. ft. roof extension.  Was there ever a project schedule prepared?

  4. Who on the Town staff was responsible for overseeing the project from start to finish- Engineering, Building Dept.? I know several Councillors have asked questions and the responses have been slow. The Council assumes Town staff will manage and they should not have to be chasing a project.

  5. Are there legal grounds to recover some of the costs?


In conclusion, the project has been a totally mismanaged, financially outrageous, with project schedule out of control.  The Town of Pelham citizens need to receive an accurate update from Town staff on this project, and what changes will be made to ensure this project history does not happen again. 

Please review, follow-up and I look forward to your reply.


Bill Heska