A costly ruling for Chattanooga's Passage on the riverfront

A costly ruling for Chattanooga's Passage on the riverfront

June 26th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Repairs may be necessary for the boat dock area near the Passage.

It's a comedy of errors, minus the laughs.

To perhaps no one's great surprise, a state appeals court has upheld a lower court's 2011 decision throwing out Chattanooga's case against River City Co. and two associates over costly repairs at the attractive but problem-plagued Passage on the riverfront.

The celebrated project and other Tennessee River waterfront work formally were unveiled in 2005, though there are indications that the city early on saw some electrical and other problems.

But the specifics of whether one party or another was responsible for those problems have not really been the focus of the court rulings. Rather, the courts have said, the city simply failed to file the lawsuit within the three-year statute of limitations.

"Chattanooga had constructive and actual knowledge of the construction defects and damage regarding the project," Judge John McClarty wrote recently in upholding the original decision throwing out the case. "The evidence supports the determination of the trial court."

Translation: too bad, so sad, Chattanooga.

The city, which has spent well over $1 million to renovate the Passage and faces potentially $8 million in costs for additional repairs along the waterfront, is considering an appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. That seems to be a long shot at best.

It is painfully likely that local taxpayers will be left holding the bag - evidently because the city was not adequately prompt and aggressive when the problems first began appearing.