JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Mayor Alvin Brown may have a $350 million problem on his hands. Without a passing fire inspection, the new Duval County Courthouse will not open by the May 29th, as scheduled.
"I think whatever happens, we'll be able to serve the public. Whether its plan A or plan B," said Mayor Brown.
So, we wanted to know, is there a plan B? We asked the next City Council President, Bill Bishop. He said, "As near as I can tell, no there's not. And they're all trying to scramble right now to figure one out."
Scrambling to figure out the fastest way to fix a problem with the fire protection system. Bishop, who works as an architect, says the problem should not be happening in this stage of the game. "It's always a possibility where you have major systems failures. But it's highly unusual to be in a situation where you have a major system that isn't performing properly, and oh, by the way, you've already moved. No, this isn't supposed to happen this way," he said.
Fire Chief Marty Senterfitt old us the sprinklers, smoke control, the system has a whole isn't working properly. And he says it's up to the contractor, Turner Construction, to fix it, on their dime. Chief Senterfitt said, "Turner is working around the clock. The city is providing all possible aid to help Turner. But at the end of the day, we're looking to Turner to help fix this system."
Action News contacted Turner to get some answers. A spokesman released a statement saying, "Turner is engaged with the contractors, the design team and the City in the normal process of final testing, inspection and commissioning of the Courthouse’s building systems. Turner will work cooperatively to address any issues raised as part of this process." But our question about a possible delay was never answered.
When asked about a specific back-up plan, Mayor Brown couldn't answer. He said, "I want to be honest and open to the taxpayers. And I'm not going to lay out a plan that if plan A doesn't work, plan B doesn't work."
All he could say is he's still hopeful to meet that May 29th deadline. "As Mayor, we're going to do everything we can to make sure that the courthouse is open on time. And if it can't open on time, there will be a plan so that we can continue to serve the public."
Action News contacted the State Attorney's Office, to see how a possible delay could affect pending trials. We were told it's ready to try all scheduled cases, no matter which courthouse the city decides to use next week.
Turner Construction has worked on the new Courthouse since 2007. It also built Veterans Memorial Arena, which has also seen it's share of construction issues.