Metro-East News

Architect agrees to accept lower amount in dispute with Belleville

Contractor says Belleville owes $90,000

The Lawrence Group has received about $1.35 million so far from Belleville, according to Laura Conrad, the chief financial officer for the company. But Conrad said the company continues to seek $90,000 from Belleville.
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The Lawrence Group has received about $1.35 million so far from Belleville, according to Laura Conrad, the chief financial officer for the company. But Conrad said the company continues to seek $90,000 from Belleville.

A St. Louis-based architectural firm that said the city of Belleville was late in paying $90,000 for design services has agreed to accept $72,000 to end the dispute.

The Lawrence Group worked on the $20.6 million renovation of the Belleville City Hall and conversion of a bank building into the police headquarters at 720 W. Main St.

Laura Conrad, the chief financial officer for the Lawrence Group, could not be reached for comment about the $72,000 payment, but Mayor Mark Eckert said this payment closed the account with the Lawrence Group.

Conrad said in January the company was seeking $90,000, which was a reduction of $110,000 originally sought. Overall, the company had received about $1.35 million from the city as of January, Conrad said.

“They cut down quite a bit,” Eckert said. “You can see where we finally settled.

“There were some issues that we don’t think were properly handled,” Eckert said. “They changed architects midstream through that project and that was very cumbersome both on time and communication.”

Conrad has said her company denies that a change of architects delayed the projects.

The police officers moved into their new headquarters in 2016 and the City Hall renovation wrapped up in October but had been scheduled to be finished in early 2017.

The issue between the Lawrence Group and the city bubbled up publicly in January when John Smith, a pre-construction manger and conceptual estimator for the Lawrence Group, criticized the city during the Jan. 16 City Council meeting.

Smith noted that the city’s newsletter listed “integrity” as a word of the month for January.

“It seems like the integrity of the city is being discussed here in the words of the month and yet the city is not paying the contractor … for work done and has not been paid since May of 2017,” Smith told the council. “I don’t know about you but I don’t think I’d want to continue to work and do my job if I’m not paid for seven months.”

Eckert said Smith was not involved in the negotiations between the city and the Lawrence Group.

“We feel like this was the best way to settle it and not take it to mediation or anything else,” Eckert said. “Everybody was comfortable with that and it’s resolved.”

Mike Koziatek: 618-239-2502, @MikeKoziatekBND
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