College waiting on surety company after firing building contractor

Taft College's $12 million student center was supposed to have opened last spring.

Now, when the structure that is supposed to be the grand finishing touch to Measure A, the 2004 bond measure that rebuilt most of the college campus, is still nothing more than a foundation and a metal shell.
When it will be completed is uncertain.
College officials are confident that it eventually will be done, and finished without any additional cost to the taxpayers.
But it's in limbo now after the college fired the firm hired to construct the student center and is working with the surety company that bonded Averland Construction, to get the job done.

Averland was fired last month when the college lost patients with delay after delay.

This week, Taft College Executive Vice President for Administrative Services updated the Citizens Oversight Committee for Measure A on the situation.

Not much has changed in the past two weeks.

The College has provided volumes of documentation to the surety company that bonded Averland and is now responsible for completing the project.

McMurray said he estimates it will take several months before work can begin again.
The bond company will have to hire a new contractor to finish the job

Optimistically, it could take just two to three months just for the surety company to agree with the findings that Averland was in default, McMurray said.

"We have to give them an appropriate amount of time to review that documentation," he said. "The next step would be for the surety company to come back with a plan."

That will take more time.

Pressed by committee member Dennis McCall, McMurray said its going to take some time.
"Three months time? I don' think that's going to be realistic," McMurray said.

He told the committee there were too many delays, too many missed milestones in construction of the 21,000 square foot structure that will someday hold the TC student center, cafeteria, bookstore, staff mail room, and meeting rooms.

Averland was facing daily fines if the structure wasn't substantially done by mid-October, but the compeltion deadline was aldready being pushed back to the spring of 2019, a year later than originally scheduled.
But it became apparent that even the new date was not realistic.

The college had no choice but to take the course of action it is taking.

"It's an unfortunate situation, but I think its being handled well," said committee Member Roger Miller.

McMurray wouldn't even take a guess on when the student center might be ready.

"I'd be a happy college administrator to know it would be done in a reasonable amount of time," he said after the meeting.

Still, he's looking forward to seeing it done.

"This is going to be Taft College's marquee building. It's going to be an awesome building."