Long legal battle ends for OBSD, contractor

Boyd Keyser

LONG BEACH - A long legal battle and a longer construction process neared an end earlier this month as the Ocean Beach School District Board of Directors approved a final mitigation agreement with Fidelity - a construction bonding company - on July 13 during a work session.

According to OBSD Superintendent Boyd Keyser, the district agreed to pay Fidelity $290,000 for services rendered by contractors and subcontractors on the Ocean Park and Long Beach elementary and Hilltop construction projects. In return, Fidelity agreed to finance several unresolved construction projects at Hilltop including the retrofitting of faulty windows, concrete repair and painting on parts of the exterior of the building, as well as flooring repairs at Hilltop and Long Beach schools. Fidelity also agreed to accept the responsibility for any other outstanding liens or debts on the project.

"The agreement brings to a close a long and complicated legal negotiation between the district, Fidelity and RGB Construction," Keyser said. RGB did much of the preliminary construction work before Fidelity took over the project as a result of claims by the district of faulty workmanship.

Keyser said funds will be paid from the construction bond and will leave enough in the bond fund for the district to complete a short list of unfinished items as well as paying off the last of its obligations to consultants and service providers to the project.

Former Superintendent Rainer Houser, who is overseeing the completion of the last items this summer, was enthusiastic about the settlement, Keyser said, which will wrap up the $23 million project. "It has been a long and difficult road, but this agreement allows the district to successfully complete all of our building projects within our budget," Houser said. "That is no small feat given the challenges we have faced."

At the work session, board members praised Houser for his determined efforts to make sure that the project was completed in a way that left the district three beautiful, high-functioning buildings and no outstanding financial obligations.

"Rainer has been very firm with all the parties that the district was not going to be left with any faulty work, or paying for services we weren't satisfied with," board member Larry Phelps said. "There is no doubt his efforts saved the district thousands of dollars."

Keyser, who served as the board secretary, assisted the board through the analysis of the agreement as well as a final settlement with Ambia, the architectural firm on the project. "These agreements will really allow me to focus much of my energy on educational issues instead of getting bogged down on the legal aspects of the construction project," he said. "I am very thankful that we have been able to call on Rainer to get us through this process."

The board will meet next on July 27 at the district office with a work session at 5:30 p.m. and the monthly business meeting starting at 7 p.m.

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