Banneker Park renovations subject to lawsuit against Arlington County



Arlington County has withheld nearly $1 million from a contractor who renovated a popular park in the East Falls Church area, the company said.

McDonnell Landscape, who sued the county board in Arlington Circuit Court on Aug. 17, had been hired to carry out long-awaited updates at Benjamin Banneker Park, a 12.5-acre facility along Four Mile Run which includes a major trailhead, dog park and sports facilities.

The Brookeville, Md. landscaper alleged that Arlington committed four breaches of contract by grossly underestimating the required quantities of soil, concrete and excavation and ignoring the traffic management needed to carry out the renovations.

“This is a request for payment for additional work done due to faulty construction documents, including specifications and drawings provided by the county,” said Laurence Schor, attorney representing the contractor. “The county was solely responsible for the design and omitted or erred in what it provided to the contractor.”

Ryan Hudson, an Arlington County spokesperson, said in an email that he could not comment on any pending litigation.

McDonnell Landscaping had previously turned down an offer from Arlington to settle the case for $272,000.

In accordance with Arlington’s dispute resolution language for contractors, the company appealed to the county council in July. But lawmakers voted unanimously behind closed doors to reject the contractor’s claims.

Schor, the contractor’s lawyer, said the “no” vote was “like being dragged through the mud”, he said.

“It makes me all the more surprised: when they have a contractor they hire after a rigorous screening, they don’t pay them for work they know is being done,” he added. “We are showing sincere heart and civic interest, and it’s time for the county to pay.”

In a March letter included in court documents, county officials said a manager of the park renovation project said the deal was a lump sum contract and not a unit price contract, like the landscaper had insisted.

Deputy County Executive Shannon Flanagan-Watson added that the landscaper had missed “numerous opportunities” to seek clarification on traffic maintenance and failed to notify the additional contract time in a timely manner.

She offered to settle the dispute for $272,600 and waive any damages accrued when the contractor failed to complete the renovations on time.

Arlington lawmakers had three years ago reward a contract of up to $2.6 million to the landscaping company. McDonnell Landscape submitted the lowest bid among five bidders that was “responsive to price requirements,” county officials wrote at the time.


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