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$7.6 million county project behind schedule

By Matthew Smith, Good Morning El Paso Weekend Anchor / Reporter
Published On: Aug 12 2013 10:54:33 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 10:59:41 PM CST

ABC-7s Matthew Smith reports.

EL PASO, Texas -

El Paso County leaders are applying pressure to get a multimillion-dollar project back on track.

Sunlight Enterprises was awarded a $7.5 million contract to renovate the El Paso County Sportspark last year. During Monday's county commissioners court meeting, county leaders said that the project had fallen behind schedule.

Commissioners discussed the project behind closed doors in executive session. When they returned to their regular meeting, representatives from Sunlight Enterprises had joined the meeting.

Danny Gonzalez, the project manager, gave several reasons why the project had issues. Gonzalez told commissioners that he had trouble contacting people in the county when problems arose, but El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar wasn't willing to accept that answer. She continually asked him whether he had weekly meetings with the county.

Gonzalez conceded time and time again that he did, but continued to state that there were communication issues.

Eventually the county agreed to pull the company's performance bond, which means another company will come in and oversee the work to ensure that it's done.

The county vowed to work with Sunlight Enterprises to ensure that the work is completed. However, in rare cases when performance bonds are pulled work can be completed by outside companies according to a county employee with knowledge of this type of work.

When the decision came down, one representative from Sunlight complained that "being blackballed by a bonding company has a huge effect on his performance and his ability to do work."

Last year a controversy unfolded in commissioners court over whether Sunlight Enterprises should have been awarded the bid. There was confusion over how the project was written up. At that time the competing company, F.T. James, questioned whether the job would get done in time.

Escobar told ABC-7 that she still stood by the court's decision from 2012, because of the county's rules with low bids.

"I think that despite the controversy that was involved, I think we made the right decision," said Escobar. "It was the low bid. Anyway you look at it, the low bid should have been awarded to Sunlight."

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