Manatee County may file suit for Judicial Center repairs

skennedy@bradenton.comFebruary 13, 2013 

MANATEE -- Construction or design defects on the stucco facade of the Manatee County Judicial Center need to be repaired, but county officials said they're not sure when work will begin.

The remediation will be done by Balfour Beatty Construction, LLC, but the agreement with the company was unclear about who would pay its $2 million cost, said Manatee County Chief Deputy Attorney Jim Minix.

"All we're asking for is direction from the board to go forward with legal matters," Minix told the commission during its meeting Tuesday. "We believe we should file an action, and we've worked up pleadings to that effect."

The contractor has been notified of the defects and a "pre-suit demand letter" has been sent, according to county documents.

"It is believed that Balfour

Beatty Construction, LLC has retained sub-contractors to perform the work, but it has not started the necessary remediation as of this date," documents said.

"In light of the limitations period that governs these actions, Manatee County must timely file an action to enforce its rights against both Balfour Beatty Construction, LLC and its sureties in the event that the remediation work is not timely completed to the County's satisfaction," documents said.

Commissioners authorized legal action if necessary.

Efforts to reach Balfour Beatty Construction for comment were unsuccessful late Tuesday.

While the commission was discussing the problem, the question arose as to what should be done with the former county jail, which is now empty and part of the Judicial Center complex.

"It bothers me to spend $2 million to pretty up the outside of a building that cannot be used for any other purpose," said Manatee County Commission Chairman Larry Bustle.

The board agreed to appoint an ad hoc citizens' committee to study the matter.

The former county jail at one time was occupied by what was then called the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, but the agency closed its Manatee facility a few years ago.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.

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