During the holiday season, Bay Island Park, just over the north Siesta Key bridge, is a popular destination for area residents to park at the water’s edge and enjoy the view of Christmas lights reflecting off the bay. But due to ongoing construction at the site, and a complicated and unprecedented set of circumstances, that longstanding tradition won’t be an option this year. The site could be closed well into 2014.
The park has been closed since March 28 as part of a $997,937 project to restore 800 linear feet of seawall at the site.
The project’s contractor, CB Construction Services Corp., stopped work after the Aug. 27 death of Cresente Bautista, 59, the firm’s president and CEO. A passing boat found Bautista’s body on a sandbar in Big Pass. Foul play was not suspected, according to a Sarasota Police report.
The project was originally projected to be completed by Oct. 23, but, according to Sarasota County Project Manager Paul Semenec, after Bautista’s death the firm asked for and received a contract extension through December. The firm eventually decided to walk away from the project by voluntarily defaulting on its contract, Semenec said, opening up a new round of bids — and more lengthy delays.
“At this time we can’t give an updated timeline, we are working with the original contractors to put together a bid packet,” Semenec said.
“This is a unique situation that we haven’t had to deal with before,” Sarasota County Information Officer Curt Preisser added, explaining that any new contract will need approval from the County Commission, the city of Sarasota and the West Coast Inland Navigation District, which regulates all projects impacting the Intracoastal Waterway.
According to Semenec, ownership of the park’s seawall is split between the county and the city — with the county responsible for the southern section, and the northern parts under city control.
County Commissioner Nora Patterson sent an email to county staff reporting that she has received two complaints from Siesta residents concerning the stalled seawall restoration project and the continued shutdown of the park. In the email, she pressed county officials for an updated timeline.
Semenec said the re-bid process means the County Commission will have to reapprove the project. Asked about potential cost overruns, Semenec said that until the project goes back before the County Commission he could not give an estimate as to how the delays might have affected the overall cost.
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