Settlement increased in visitor center claim

Posted: Friday, July 25, 2008

Kenai stands to receive nearly $400,000 in a class action settlement to be applied toward replacing the heating system in the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.

Tubing material known as Entran II, used to circulate radiant heat in the floor of the visitors center, failed and Kenai became one of the claimants against Goodyear, the manufacturer of the tubing.

Initially the city was considered to be in the lowest class of claimants based on the extent of damage caused by the failure, but later applied to move up in claim status when the situation changed, according to City Manager Rick Koch.

"Now we're losing 30 gallons of water a day, the circulating pumps are failing and other components of the heating system are getting gummed up because of the deteriorating tubing," Koch said in December.

The initial settlement brought $71,730 to the city. At the time of that settlement, Kenai was in a lower class of plaintiffs that had not yet suffered "catastrophic or serious failure" of the tubing.

Since that award, the city provided additional information to the claims administrator seeking to move up in class.

"We completed an engineer's analysis, prepared a written report and Cary (Graves, city attorney,) submitted our application to place Kenai in the catastrophic or serious category," Koch said.

On July 7, Kenai received a letter informing the city its application had been approved and Kenai was moved up in class. A check for $113,222 accompanied the letter, bringing Kenai's total to date to $184,953.

The Kenai City Council last week, introduced an ordinance appropriating the money to fund the heating system replacement.

Koch said earlier the city will not reinstall in-floor radiant heating, but a different type of heating system will be designed for the center, which also houses artworks and historical artifacts. He told the council the preservation of the sensitive materials will be taken into account in the system design.

Work to replace the visitors center heating system is scheduled for this coming winter. Employees in the building will be relocated to temporary offices during the project.

Koch said the center will be closed in the period between December and March 2009, though the closure most likely will not be for the entire period.

"The work will affect (the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau) operations as little as possible," he said. "If they have to move, we'll move them, but I think they'll be able to stay."

While the heating system work is being done, Koch said the city likely will replace the center's carpeting.

The city council previously approved transferring the $71,730 to the heating system capital project fund.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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