City looks past litigation, OKs Kelly Street repairs (LIVEBLOG)

Matt Algarin

While city leaders are in the midst of pending litigation, they have decided to move forward with reconstruction efforts along Kelly Street.

"We've got school kids and people walking up and down the roadway, so it's imperative that we get this done," Mayor Sam Seevers said. "It's a safety and welfare issue, and we owe this to the citizens of Destin."

With a unanimous vote Monday night, city leaders agreed to enter into contracts with three separate contractors to tie up loose ends on Kelly Street between Beach Drive and Main Street. The contractors are Gulf Coast Utility Contractors, LLC ($50,119), Roads, Inc. ($74,373.20) and Coastline Striping ($19,129).

Councilman Tuffy Dixon told his colleagues that an almost $20,000 price tag for striping seemed a bit excessive for a relatively small portion of roadway.

"I'm going into the striping business," he said with a chuckle.

City leaders has originally entered into an agreement with Aero Training & Rental Inc., in 2012 to mill and resurface the roadway along Kelly Street, which also included construction of bicycle lanes, 10-foot-wide shared use pathways and stormwater abatement measures. The contract was worth $541,758.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Aero Training & Rental alleges that the city of Destin failed to pay the contractor for the work after it was completed. The city counters that the work wasn't actually finished and Aero Training & Rental failed to live up to the terms of the contract.

Aero hired the Fort Walton Beach-based attorneys Anchors, Smith and Grimsley to represent them, as they seek a total sum of $206.526.50, which includes interest payments from the city of Destin.

Lewis Cooper, president of Aero Training & Rental, told The Log that he would have rather avoided litigation, but he's going to see the course through.

"I wanted to work with the city," he said. "Now that I'm in litigation, I can't get a bond or do any work."

For now though, City Engineer David Campbell said he would be working with the new contractors to schedule starting dates on the work.

Campbell said GCUC could start work immediately, and Roads could start soon as well. GCUC could complete the work in about two weeks, Campbell said.

“GCUC is well aware that school is in session and will work closely with us to make sure that all lanes of traffic and pedestrian safety is adhered to,” he added.

The city will also notify school officials at Destin Elementary of the pending work.

To read a play-by-play from the meeting, CLICK HERE.