Mediation fails, so far, to yield a downtown library dispute resolution

    It is now more than seven months since a structural failure halted construction on the downtown library, and more than three weeks since all parties involved in the project went to mediation to negotiate which firm—or firms—will pick up the estimated $2 million tab to repair the damaged structure so construction can resume.

    But there is still no resolution to the star-crossed project.

    The East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney’s Office, which is negotiating on behalf of the city and the Library Board of Control, declines to comment, citing a nondisclosure agreement, except to confirm that mediation has not yet concluded.

    Library Board Executive Director Spencer Watts says he and his board are increasingly frustrated by the slow pace of progress with the project, which was supposed to have opened two months ago.

    “I think all of us would really like to see this mediation come to a successful conclusion and get the project back on track,” he says. “That would have been a nice Thanksgiving present.”

    If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the dispute will likely end up in court for what could be months or years. Construction could resume during litigation but only if the city or library board fronts the money, which both city and library officials have said they don’t want to do.

    Construction began on the downtown library in early 2017 but came to a standstill in mid-April, after construction crews discovered a faulty weld that had caused a shift in the building’s cantilever, which overlooks North Boulevard. Days later, four hydraulic jacks—which remain in place—were brought in to support the cantilever.

     

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