City fires downtown contractor; company CEO says it’ll cost them

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Niles city officials have asked Mark I Restoration to stop its work in downtown Niles, Niles City Administrator Terry Eull said.
However, Scott Evett, the president and CEO of Mark I, which is based in Howell, said this morning he hasn't been notified of that and he doesn't think the city can simply end its contract.
Mark I has been working here since June 16, 2003, removing the Kawneer aluminum storefronts from buildings in the 100 and 200 block of downtown Niles.
The move by the city on Wednesday afternoon stems from a dispute that dates back to early fall, when the company informed city and downtown officials it wants another $52,000 for removing the aluminum in the 100 block of East Main Street.
Mark I officials told the city it had discovered more boards, known as nailers, underneath the aluminum siding than it expected, which cost the company more to remove than it had anticipated prior to the start of the project, Eull said.
He said the nailers held up the aluminum storefronts and some buildings had more than others because of the need to bring all of the buildings in the block even with each other.
Eull said, even though Mark I did not follow the outlines of its contract with the city for dealing with unforeseen issues, the two sides agreed to disagree and for Mark I workers to continue with the project until both sides could negotiate a solution to the problem.
And, when the two sides were unable to come to an agreement, Eull said he was prepared to recommend to the city council that it go into arbitration with Mark I and pay the company what an arbitrator decided was fair.
However, on Feb. 4, months after the original issue surfaced, Mark I tacked on an additional $52,000 it claims the city owes it because of "interference with means and methods. They claim we disrupted their ability to do the project the way they wanted to do it," Eull said.
The city council met in a closed session Monday night to discuss the arbitration issue and decided, because of the additional claim submitted by Mark I, it would not agree to arbitration and would immediately terminate its contract with Mark I. He said Mark I officials were notified of that decision on Wednesday afternoon.
However, Evett said this morning, "I've heard that second hand, but no one from the city has told me that. I'm not sure they are capable of doing that. There is an arbitration clause in the contract that requires them to arbitrate differences."
Evett also disputed the city's claim that it did not know about the means and methods claim.
Eull said Mark I will be paid the $450,000 on its original contract for work it has completed in the 100 and 200 block of East Main Street.
He said the city has available to it about $225,000 in funds donated from private foundations to complete the removal of the aluminum and restoration of the six buildings remaining in the 200 block.
Eull said he could not recommend to the city council that it go forward with arbitration with Mark I without "being blindsided with something else down the road."
He said the company didn't follow the letter or spirit of the contract in handling either dispute.
He said he hopes to have another contractor hired and working to complete the project, which was supposed to be completed per the original contract with Mark I on Sept. 26, in four to six weeks.
Evett, too, said he is "very disappointed that the contract is being ended. We've enjoyed working in the city and feel that, for the most part, things worked very well.

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