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YMCA contractor payment issues still unresolved

Posted on Friday, August 22, 2014 at 9:50 am

YMCA sign
By Sarah Vogelsong
CP Reporter


Problems linger behind the scenes at the Caroline Family YMCA, with several subcontractors for the project who filed mechanic’s liens against the project’s general contractor this past spring reporting that they still have not been paid for their work.

Between April and June, three subcontractors for the project—Madison & Morgan Masonry, Barranger & Company, Inc., and Godsey & Son, Inc.—filed liens in Caroline County Circuit Court against the YMCA’s general contractor, Northern Virginia-based Thurston Companies, for amounts ranging from as low as $6,862 for Barranger to almost $119,000 for Godsey & Son.

In June, the Rappahannock Area YMCA’s law firm, Hirschler Fleischer, sent a notice of default to Thurston, charging that the contractor had not completed work on 29 punchlist items.

Steve Thurston, president of Thurston Companies, stated this week that all of the outstanding items have been completed except for sediment and erosion work related to the grass on the Caroline YMCA property. He further said that all parties—his company, the YMCA, and the county—had agreed that this work would be delayed until after Labor Day since “there’s no point in (trying to) grow grass in August.”

According to Thurston, the remaining sediment and erosion project constitutes only about $7,000 or $8,000 worth of work. He claimed that the YMCA is withholding $466,000 worth of payment until the completion of this component of the project. Of that total, almost $228,000 is retainage, while the rest comes from change orders.

But county building inspector Kevin Wightman stated that there are still outstanding items on the project that need to be completed. A roof drain issue still needs to be addressed, as does the underground sprinkler pipe certification. Furthermore, Wightman said that he has not yet seen the required “as-built drawings,” or diagrams of the construction that was actually completed.

“We’re confident that all the things on the list are going to be corrected,” Rappahannock YMCA CEO Barney Reiley said. “We’re moving toward resolution.”

Thurston disagreed, stating that “it’s just been a nightmare trying to get paid down there.” He claimed that the YMCA has ignored him since problems began in April.

“They’re going to leave me with no choice but to sue them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the mechanic’s liens filed by the subcontractors have not been resolved.

“We don’t have any expectation for the general contractor to come through,” said Dennis Harlow, controller and chief financial officer at Godsey & Son.

Gary Barranger, president of Barranger & Company, said that since the recession, “we’ve seen an increasing difficulty in being paid by anybody.”

“It’s everywhere, not just us,” he said. “It is extremely frustrating.”

Barranger provided bathroom partitions and accessories for the Caroline YMCA.

“You’d think a simple thing like that, you could get paid,” he said.

Thurston said that he has not paid the subcontractors because he has not been paid the outstanding $466,000 from the YMCA, and that his contracts with the subcontractors who filed the liens all include a “pay when paid” clause that stipulates that the contractor will pay the subcontractors when he himself is paid.

He further aired his frustration at the communication problems, citing $250,000 of donations that he said he and his wife have made over the years to the YMCA. The Steve and Cheri Thurston Water Park at the Massad Branch of the Rappahannock YMCA in Fredericksburg is named after the pair.

“They lost a donor,” said Thurston.

The YMCA’s construction was financed through a $5 million grant from Caroline County to the Rappahannock YMCA. Currently, the county makes payments twice a year in the amount of $103,100 on the interest of the loan that made the grant possible. At its July 22 meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved this payment minus $25,000 that the Rappahannock YMCA supplied, for a total payment of $78,100.