Amphitheater project put on hold

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Photo by Donna Ritchie

The construction of the new amphitheater at Holiday Harbor Park, which was slated to be completed in June, has been red-tagged and put on hold. Construction of the amphitheater began the first week of May without the POA submitting the necessary applications or plans to the city. The city said the facility will remain red-tagged until plans are submitted, permits granted, inspections conducted and any code violations are fixed.

“I have always felt this was a simple hardscape project in an existing already-permitted park and the occupancy, usage and parking requirements did not change. Proximity to the lake doesn’t change,” POA General Manager Eric Kazakoff stated. “We always intended to pull permits for the shade structure and the electrical work. Not doing that in a timely fashion was the fail here. Had our subs submitted those when they promised, these other requirements would have become evident much sooner. I have agreed to provide everything the city has requested as soon as I can get them produced.”

On June 5, the city issued a cease work order when it was discovered that plans had not been submitted and permits not issued. Plans must be submitted with a permit application; otherwise, there is no way to verify code compliance, the city said. The city’s Building and Safety staff met with the POA’s Director of Operations, Steve Schneider, to discuss how to bring the project into compliance before the Fourth of July holiday. The city offered to expedite the project. According to the city, the general manager committed to submitting an application with plans by June 14 but said that did not happen.

On June 15, Mayor Vicki Warren met with POA President Mike Harris and POA General Manager Eric Kazakoff to discuss the issue and to form a plan to work together to get the amphitheater finished as soon as possible. According to the mayor, the POA agreed to submit the necessary application and plans to allow the city to inspect for state and local code compliance on an expedited basis in time for the Fourth of July holiday. “That did not happen,” the mayor stated.

On June 26, city staff discovered that work had continued on the amphitheater and that it was nearly completed, making inspection for safety purposes difficult without removing improvements, and in the process, violating a variety of state and local codes. For this reason, and for citizen safety and legal compliance, the city said it red-tagged the entire facility, declaring it unsafe. Cease work and red-tag notices were posted at the facility.

The following day, the city re-posted the notices at the amphitheater when it was learned that the notices posted the day before had been removed.

The posted notices have caused tension between the POA and city. “I’m taking these down,” said the POA’s general manager in a June 29 text message to the mayor. “Is the city trying to start a war? Because it’s working. The city just destroyed our relationship.”

On June 29, City Attorney Elizabeth Martyn sent a letter to the members of the POA Board of Directors to explain why permitting matters, how the POA can proceed at this point, and to put the POA on notice of the “serious issues with the facility.” “The POA is on notice that the building is red-tagged and why it is red-tagged,” she stated. “The POA proceeds with the use of the amphitheater at its own risk.”

The city believes that the non-compliance was intentional, which the POA General Manager firmly denies.

“The city takes no pleasure in sending a letter such as this and has no idea why the POA acted in this manner,” said the city’s attorney. “Regardless, the city has and will proceed in the manner required by state and local law in order to protect its residents. The city also will take all necessary administrative and legal actions to require that the POA comply with the law, submit appropriate plans, obtain permits and correct any problems found after inspection on the property.”

The city attorney’s letter prompted a response from the POA’s attorney on July 3. “The CLPOA has consistently acknowledged the need to obtain a permit for the shade structure and the electrical work. The CLPOA’s subcontractors were responsible for obtaining those permits, and due to delays on their part, for which the POA takes responsibility for, and the city not being open on Fridays, permit applications for those issues were delayed until June 25 when the city advised the POA’s subcontractors that they would not issue a permit for the electrical work or shade structure until permits for the whole project were obtained.”

“To claim the city refused permits is inaccurate. Permits are not stand-alone products; backup paperwork and plans must also be submitted, as any contractor or subcontractor knows,” the mayor stated. “No initiating documents had been submitted, so the permits could not be granted.”

The POA’s position is that the garden walls that make up the amphitheater seating area do not require a permit and that they were led to believe by the city that the city agreed.

The POA’s attorney stated, “To be clear, CLPOA’s Board of Directors fully and unanimously supports General Manager Eric Kazakoff, and the association’s handling of this project.”

Rather than fight this issue, the POA said it will work with the city to obtain any permits the city believes necessary for the amphitheater.

“There are a myriad of issues CLPOA and the city must work together on. Differences are bound to arise, but it is of no benefit to the people we serve if CLPOA and the city maintain an antagonistic relationship,” said the attorney. “To this end, CLPOA is committed to addressing this issue in cooperation with the city, and the project’s engineer, and will rectify any outstanding permit or safety issues, consistent with its legal obligations.”

According to the city, as of July 12, plans have not been submitted .

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Donna Ritchie