Council concerned about use of clubhouse while renovations still underway

During deliberation about proposed amendments to the City of Devine’s contract with SG Golf Management at the meeting last Tuesday, December 14 (see separate story), the Devine City Council veered into discussion about the clubhouse renovation and usage.
Renovation began in the spring, and while contractor Greco Construction has been issued a certificate of substantial completion, and SG Golf Management has utilized the building, Council was appraised at the November 16 meeting of drainage issues and smaller punch list items that remain (see “Sewage backup among problems at new-renovated golf course clubhouse” in the November. 24 edition of The Devine News).
Additionally, kitchen equipment has not yet been delivered and installed, with a large walk-in refrigerator/freezer not due for several months.
The City is contractually obligated to continue monthly payments of $32,536 to SG Golf Management until the clubhouse reaches a “turnkey” state, which includes the installation of kitchen equipment.
District 2 Councilwoman Angela Pichardo questioned those continued payments with the clubhouse in use, and Mayor Cory Thompson said it was because construction was not yet complete.
“There’s an actually very easy way we can stop paying that $32,000 a month,” Thompson said. “You know how? We can fulfill our end of the contract, which is to get the clubhouse done. It is not done.
“I want to make it very clear to everybody in the room, everybody online, the clubhouse is not done. Okay? It is missing loads of things that are in the contract that have not been done yet.”
District 3 Councilman David Espinosa asked if the building should be occupied if it’s not done, and SG Golf Management’s Scott Grego said they hadn’t been given occupancy.
“We weren’t given occupancy,” Grego said. “We were given the right to use the property as needed, to decorate and get ready to obtain [occupancy] once we were given the building. But we were given permission to utilize the building.”
Grego said former City Administrator John Vidaurri had given verbal permission on August 13. He confirmed that permission was not in writing, and Espinosa said that left the City with nothing to fall back on.
“It’s liability,” Espinosa said. “If somebody falls, slips in that building that does not have a certificate yet, we’re going to be liable.”
“Then we’ll stop utilizing the restrooms,” Grego said.
District 4 Councilwoman Kathy Lawler asked Thompson about the work that still needed to be completed.

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“You said there’s a lot of things that aren’t done,” Lawler said. “We were told before that it was almost finished except for the freezer/refrigerator and the kitchen equipment.”
Interim City Administrator Dora Rodriguez confirmed that Council had been given a checklist of work to be completed at the Nov. meeting.
“The reality is nobody knows until they come out and inspect if things are going to pass or fail,” Thompson said. “At this moment in time.”
“But really the checklist we were given was little things, like marks on the wall,” Lawler said.
“No weather stripping,” District 5 Councilwoman Debbie Randall added.
“They are little things,” Thompson agreed, and said he wanted to address the issue, but wanted to do so in a way that wouldn’t get the City in trouble.
City employee Eddie Diaz addressed Council to explain that the City uses Bureau Veritas for building inspections, and that the City had spoken to Gregory Hallmark, the fire inspector and project manager for the area, who recommended having a life and safety check inspection on the clubhouse.
“If [the inspector] feels that it’s good, though still partial on the construction, that we could do a temporary certificate of occupancy until everything is completed,” Diaz said.
“Let’s just say we are working with the contractor diligently to resolve those issues,” Thompson told Lawler. “When they get resolved, we’ll let Council know.”
Kitchen equipment
During the Nov. meeting, Thompson informed Council that most of the kitchen equipment, with the exception of the refrigerator/freezer, was scheduled to arrive in late Dec. Randall said that piece of equipment wasn’t due to arrive until March, and suggested letting Jerry and Missy Stevens of Charlie’s Daughter bring their own equipment to use temporarily so the entire clubhouse and restaurant could be in use.
Resident Kevin Hicks addressed Council during the citizens’ forum portion of the meeting and said he contacted a Von Ormy-based company named Portable Refrigeration, Inc., that could rent the City a 20-foot refrigeration unit.
Hicks noted the City’s contract with 1st Choice Restaurant Supply for the purchase and installation of kitchen equipment is $105,052.44, and that when SG Golf’s monthly management fees that must be paid until the clubhouse is declared turnkey are taken into account, the wait for the ordered refrigerator/freezer is a pricey one.
During the informational items portion at the end of the meeting, Lawler said she’d like the City to check in with the possibility of renting a refrigeration unit.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer