Delayed: Commons project slated to be ready mid-summer

Mar. 18—The two most exciting parts of any construction project are the day it starts and the day it's done. Work on the $3 million Commons began about a year ago. That was a happy day, but the joy of celebrating the completion is still months away, blowing by the hopeful completion date (Jan. 1) and the projected one (Feb. 15).

"I am not certain about the reasons for the delay, but it has not quite met expectations," said Bob Grewe, executive director Daviess County Economic Development Corporation.

"There were a lot of things that popped up that have slowed this project down," said Washington Mayor David Rhoads. "Those things were beyond the contractor's control."

Tabor-Owens is the contractor on the project that sits on three-quarters of a city block in the oldest part of Washington. Company partner Jeff Owens says that the site began presenting challenges almost as soon as crews began digging.

"For years, there had been different buildings there. There have been multiple generations of buildings and pipes there. We ran into a slew of that," said Owens. "It is coming along. There were a lot of unforeseen things there and design changes to deal with. Those were all underground and those are now behind us and taken care of. You are going to see movement in the next couple months."

In construction, problems often beget more problems. Correcting an issue underground can impact where things go above ground. That can mean making changes on the remaining structures.

"The project has gone really well. We have been able to work the city. Unfortunately, when you get into a situation like that and there are changes that have to be made, it just takes time to work through them," said Owens. "The changes underground caused us to make some changes in elevations and some of the things we had to order. We are now looking at mid-summer for full completion."

The work yet to be done includes another pavilion, a bandstand and a public restroom.

"The steel for the bandstand will be arriving soon. I think that will begin going into the air in the next month," said Owens. "People will see a lot of that start coming together now."

The slowed down construction means the city will not be able to show off the downtown jewel when thousands arrive to view the eclipse.

"Some measure of disappointment, but Amber (Warden) and the rest of the Discover Downtown team will make other plans and soldier on, and we will have a big event sometime in the future, and have some fun," said Grewe.

"It would have been nice to be ready for the eclipse," said Rhoads. "They are moving and getting things done. When it is finished it will be nice."

The Commons project could well extend into the summer before crews can put a ribbon on it and turn it over to the city. Owens says that while crews would have liked to have seen the project end in time for the eclipse, the finish of the project has a bigger meaning for the Washington-based company.

"It's a good project. It's a complicated project," said Owens. "The most important thing is that this is a long-term facility for our community. The biggest thing, even if it goes on a few months longer than anticipated is that it is done right and is for the long term. That is a concern for any project for us, but with us being a local company, it makes it even more important for us. Our employees, peers and families will be using these facilities and it is important that it gets done right. We cannot take short cuts that will hurt the quality of this facility in the long term."