A dispute over an unfinished construction project in Griggs County, North Dakota has been referred to mediation more than a year after work stopped at the site.
The $3.5 million project to build a new Griggs County Courthouse/Emergency Operations Center in Cooperstown hit trouble in early 2014, when the contractor (Construction Engineers) threatened to stop work over what they claimed were a series of missed payments and opposing interpretations of contract language. The disputes hit a head in May when the contractor pulled its crews from the site. The building is estimated to be about 90% completed. The contractor then filed a lien against the county asking for nearly $900 million plus accumulated interest.
The county has made payments in the meantime, but the contractor claims they still owe nearly $300 million for the work that has been completed, and refuses to finish the job until the account is brought up to date. The county believes the Building Authority is responsible for the bills, and the Building Authority claims the only reason there are unpaid bills at this point is due to the delay caused by the contractor walking off the job, and thus does not believe it is its responsibility.
The new building is set to replace the historic courthouse, built in 1884 and currently the oldest county courthouse still in active use in North Dakota. The County Commission has approved funding to finish the work, but nothing can be done until the impasse is resolved.