Tacoma City Council: More money OK for Chinese Reconciliation Park

Tacoma City Council unanimously approved a purchase resolution Tuesday that directs $250,000 to cover cost overruns related to the Tacoma Chinese Garden and Reconciliation Park and the construction of a Chinese Pavilion, or “Ting,” which arrived unassembled in Tacoma from Fuzhou, China in September. The purchase resolution approved yesterday brings the total contract amount to $1,256,826.09 plus sales tax — nearly double the original contract with Clements Brothers, Inc., which totaled $656,862.09 and was approved by council on March 3, 2009. On Nov. 2, 2010, City Council approved an amendment to the contract that directed an additional $350,000 toward the project; $200,000 from the City’s general fund, and $150,000 from the City’s “Open Space” fund. The additional $250,000 approved Tuesday comes from using grant match money originally slated for the SR-509 slip ramp project. It will be used to pay for the Ting’s ridge beam, tile roof, stone work, materials/equipment, and paint, as well as security and a “contingency” plan.

City Council was expected to vote on the item during its Feb. 8 meeting, but continued the item to its Feb. 15 meeting to further study the financing (see “City could spend additional $250K for Chinese Reconciliation Park” TDI, Feb. 7, 2011 — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1920721&more=0 and “Decision delayed on additional funds for Chinese Reconciliation Park” TDI, Feb. 11, 2011 — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1924143&more=0 ).

Tacoma’s Community and Economic Development Department Ryan Petty and Public Works Director Richard E. McKinley cited a flawed schedule to complete the Ting as a key factor in cost overruns. “During construction of the Ting, it became apparent that the construction schedule provided by the City of Fuzhou was aggressive,” wrote Petty and McKinley in a Feb. 10 memo to City Manager Eric Anderson. “Their schedule assumed that the City’s contractor would work 12 to 15 hours/day, seven days a week and did not take into consideration inclement weather, cultural and communication differences, construction methodologies, weatherization requirements, and building and seismic code requirements. With the exception of the stone column work and the assembly of the timber structure, all major items of work such as the stone masonry, construction of the ridge beams, and the tile roof took longer than originally anticipated and the cost to construct increased respectively.”

Petty and McKinley added: “The Ting was a gift from the City of Fuzhou in recognition of Tacoma constructing the Chinese Reconciliation Park and originally expected to be constructed with craftsmen from China. In the spring of 2010, the City was informed by the City of Fuzhou that they were sending a small delegation of technical advisors and the construction materials necessary to construct the Ting. Tacoma was expected to construct the Ting using City forces. The Ting became an unfunded project. The Public Works Department was asked by the Community and Economic Development Department to manage the construction of the Ting using volunteer labor. Because of risk management and logistical issues, the department was unable to use the volunteers and on Sept. 20, two business days after the Chinese delegation arrived, the Public Works Department instructed Clements Brothers, the contractor that constructed Phase II of the park, to construct the Ting on force account (City paying directly for labor and materials).”

The waterfront park, which is expected to open in April, aims to commemorate the events of Nov. 3, 1885, when a group that included a Tacoma city councilmember, judge, sheriff, and the mayor forced more than 200 Chinese from their homes and businesses. The park’s development has been guided by the non-profit Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation. In 2005, more than 100 people gathered for a ceremony to mark the ground-breaking of the $12 million, four-acre park, which is located on land owned by the city and formerly occupied by the National Guard. Today, visitors to the partially-completed park will find a garden, 800-foot-long sea wall, winding foot paths, bridge, public art, interpretive displays, and recreation areas. On Oct. 30, 2010, park organizers and members of city council and the general public marched 2.5 miles from downtown Tacoma to the waterfront park to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the event.