Monterey gym nearly finished four months past project deadline—almost

Published 10:37 pm Friday, October 14, 2022

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VIDALIA, La. — Four months after the contracted deadline on Monterey High School’s new gymnasium, the gym is nearly complete but its front door is missing.

Contractors have been waiting on the door for a month so they could fully enclose the building, which cannot be used for basketball games or assemblies without it.

All that remains, besides placing the front door, is installing lockers and sinks in the concession area and cleaning it up, said Marco Gonzales of Volkert Inc., who is the project supervisor.

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“Last thing they told me was that it was in Houston, Texas,” Gonzales said of the door.

In September 2020, the Concordia Parish School Board awarded a contract for the gym’s construction to Don M. Barron Contractor Inc. of Farmerville for a little more than $3.5 million, which includes over $200,000 for building the parking lot. The gym features illuminated letters that spell “wolves” running vertically up the side next to the main entrance, which is currently boarded up with plywood.

The 15,940 square-feet gymnasium will be able to seat 625 spectators—but not before there is a front door, Gonzales said. Until then, it’s possible to open the gym partially to students for gym classes and practices with a partition separating them from the main entrance.

With a contracted completion date of July 4, school officials at first expressed they would’ve liked to see the gym open before the 2022 graduation. Then, they held out for opening the gym before the start of a new school year. Now, without the front door, they will not be able to open the gym before basketball season, Gonzalez said.

“It puts us in a bad position. As a board, we’ve been lying to the people in Monterey, telling them we’d have that building ready to open for basketball season,” Concordia Parish School Board President Fred Butcher said. “They send us an invoice every month. Maybe we can add an agenda item so that we can hold their paycheck until we get our building. It’s one lie after another. … It seems to us like the contractor does not have Monterey gym as a priority.”

School officials unanimously passed a motion for their attorneys to look at “liquidating damages” for the building’s untimely completion. Gonzalez said the contractors could legally forfeit approximately $500 per day for every day after the project deadline that the gym remains unfinished.