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County Sportspark controversy continues, far from finished

By: Genevieve Curtis
EL PASO COUNTY, Texas -- While the county Sportspark may be opened, it is far from finished.

Monday, county commissioners decided to bring in a middleman to resolve the issues.

The contractors, Sunlight Enterprises, told KFOX14 design flaws were to blame for the incomplete Sportspark.

After months of delays the gates were open but the Sportspark still isn't finished and there is no telling when it will be complete.

Daniel Gonzalez, the project manager for Sunlight Enterprises, said there were serious problems with the designs laid out by the architect firm Parkhill, Smith and Cooper.

For example, Gonzalez said they have not been able to lay sidewalk to the clubhouse because the elevation is off in the plans. He said it would not pass ADA compliance.

According to Sunlight, there were also problems with the field dimensions not meeting regulations and the designed plans for batting cages also have flaws.

Gonzalez said he's been bringing these issues up for months but the rebuttal was wrapped up in the fact that the job wasn't done yet -- indicating his concerns would be relieved when construction was complete.

"Well, now we are finished. We have everything done and all of the items that are still pending to be completed are design flaws. Every single one of them is a design flaw," Gonzalez said.

He also said the flaws were visible.

"When you sit there and look at a building and the slab is at one elevation and the stairs are two foot from getting down from the bottom of a walk ways that pretty much gives you an indication," Gonzalez said.

Now the county will call in the bond company. Essentially, the bonding company, a third party, will intervene and address each problem item by item and assess responsibility.

County Judge Veronica Escobar admitted it is a rare move for the county since they usually want to work with firms directly.

"They're going to work to ensure the project is finished and that all the obligations are met," Escobar said.

Gonzalez said they welcome the process.

"I'll be able to start responding properly and hopefully getting some closure on the items that are lingering," Gonzalez said.

The architect firm declined an interview but sent KFOX14 a staement.

"PSC, as the Architect of Record, will continue to work with the county to complete the project in a professional manner with the best interest of the public in mind. We support the County's position that there is a time and a place for addressing project issues and concerns; however the media is not the venue for these matters. It is not in the best interest of the taxpayer nor El Paso County to engage in an exchange of accusations through the media. We will comply with the standard lines of communication and procedures established by contract to move forward with the project," said Hector De Santiago, firm principal.

It appears the issue may be headed for court, and Escobar said she wouldn't rule the possibility out.