Chattanooga Waterfront fix request is $11 million

Chattanooga Waterfront fix request is $11 million

May 10th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

City engineer Tony Kinder, project manager for riverfront repairs, second from left, talks with, from left, Shane Loyd of the RLS Group, Dan Garza of HDR Engineering and city engineer Mark Heinzer at Ross's Landing on Monday afternoon. Larry Zehnder administrator of Parks and Recreation for Chattanooga, confirmed his department has asked for $10 million to repair the hard concrete edge of the waterfront. Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Departmental budget requests include more than $11 million to repair the concrete edge along the 21st Century Waterfront over the next two years, city records show.

But city officials maintain that the actual cost of fixing the $120 million riverfront showcase should be lower.

"It's still too preliminary to be talking about the numbers and we don't expect it to cost that much," said Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield.

A line item in the Parks and Recreation Department's proposed capital budget requests $1.2 million for the upcoming 2011-12 fiscal year for "Ross's Landing Riverfront hardedge repairs." Then for the 2012-13 fiscal year, the request jumps to $10 million.

Parks and Recreation Director Larry Zehnder said that is because he had to put a maximum cost in the budget.

"It's a note to finance that it's a possibility, and it's only a possibility," he said.

The city is conducting a $610,000 study of the waterfront to assess all of the problems occurring at the hard concrete edge. City officials have noticed cracking and soil erosion along the 1,000-foot edge.

The study also will look at the site's electrical, pumping, water and sewer systems.

The 21st Century Waterfront opened in May 2005 to great fanfare. Since then, the city identified problems at The Passage, a water feature of the waterfront, and spent $1.6 million to reconstruct the site.

The city since has filed lawsuits against overseer River City Co., designer Hargreaves Associates and contractor Continental Construction Co. Inc. to recoup the costs. The city has said it is considering appealing a judge's ruling this year that the city knew about the problems earlier than 2007.

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said she had questions about whether the $11.2 million requested for repairs to the hard edge also would be part of the lawsuit. She said the study should give more indication of the actual cost of repairs.

"We will be discussing it in hopes that it won't be that much," she said.

Councilman Jack Benson said Monday he hopes the cost doesn't come out to be that much. He said he knows that historically the hotel/motel tax has been earmarked to pay for construction and improvements at the 21st Century Waterfront.

"That hotel/motel tax is needed elsewhere," he said.

Contact Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CliffHightower.