Columbia agrees to financial settlement with engineering firm

The Columbia City Council on Monday night approved a settlement agreement with an engineering firm seeking payment for services rendered while designing an I-255 interchange for the proposed retail, commercial and light-industrial development in the bottoms known as Columbia Crossing in 2007 and 2008.

Horner & Shifrin, a St. Louis-based engineering firm, filed a summons late last year against the city seeking $318,000. The city entered into mediation with Horner & Shifrin in an attempt to resolve the matter, holding to the belief that Columbia Crossing developer G.J. Grewe was responsible for payment.

But nothing really resulted from the mediation process, city administrator Al Hudzik said, and the legal wrangling continued.

The settlement agreement, which was reached “in an effort to avoid the risk and uncertainty inherent in litigation and to avoid incurring additional attorneys fees and expenses,” calls for Columbia to pay $280,000 to Horner & Shifrin, Hudzik said.

The city will pay $7,500 monthly for 24 months to the engineering firm, followed by a lump sum payment of $100,000 on or before June 1, 2016.

Since no funds were budgeted for the current fiscal year, Hudzik said the payment schedule will start on May 15, 2014.

“It definitely creates a challenge,” Hudzik said of the financial ramifications of this settlement for the city. “We’re just going to have to work our way through it.”

In addition to the settlement sum, the city agrees that if it should enter into a development contract with any person or entity for this proposed development area on or before Jan. 1, 2020, the city shall pay an additional sum of $95,000 to Horner & Shifrin.

Upon receipt of the full payment amount in 2016, Horner & Shifrin will deliver all drawings, specifications and other materials produced for this project to the city.

Hudzik said this information may still be of some value to the city in 2016, but some of it will probably need to be updated for use with any possible future development.

In other city news, a portion of Cherry Street near Metter Avenue and Turner Hall has reopened to traffic following a road project.

The block between Metter Avenue and Main Street will remain closed until the intersection is reconstructed as part of the ongoing Main Street Streetscape beautification project near City Hall.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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