The final report from an inspection into the Garden City Family YMCA dome, a joint athletic facility to be used by USD 457 and the YMCA, will largely determine future steps on the project, including whether the YMCA will pursue litigation against manufacturer Charter Matrix and the ultimate opening date of the facility.

A team coordinated by the YMCA, including its CEO Chad Knight, Garden City USD 457 Facilities Director John Geist, architect Blaine Davis, contractor Mark Lee, YMCA Building and Grounds Chairperson Terry Darden, Garden City attorney Richard Marquez and two Kansas City engineers inspected the dome Jan. 10, Knight said. The organization originally had planned the inspection for Dec. 27, but it was delayed due to snow.

In December, Knight said the YMCA was looking into concerns that Charter Matrix had breached its contract with the YMCA by using a less durable fabric instead of the one agreed-upon by both parties. The inspection of the dome would help identify any potential issues in the last leg of installations and give the team insight into the fabric and Charter Matrix’s work as a whole, Knight said at the time.

During the inspection, Knight said, the team took samples of the dome that will be submitted to a lab to aid in the investigation. He said if the inspection found any issues at the fault of the company, the YMCA may seek another manufacturer to complete the project. The organization already has begun researching other options.

Jim Roesner, Charter Matrix president, said in December that Knight gave him written authorization to use the new, stronger, higher quality fabric early on in the project. He has record of such, he said Friday, though he declined to provide a copy for legal reasons. 

"I don't do anything without authorization from the client. Period," he said.

Marquez recently sent him a letter outlining the YMCA's concerns and stating that he is not to set foot on the dome's worksite, Roesner said.

Roesner said he wants to finish the project. The job is, among other things, a chance to give back to the community of an old Garden City mentor. But, at the moment, work is stalled. 

The dome has been the subject of many delays in its now nearly two years of construction, all of which Knight has said is the fault of Charter Matrix. It was originally scheduled to open in August 2017, then pushed back several times throughout 2018.

Roesner said that over the three years it took the YMCA to raise funds for the project, vendors upped their prices significantly higher than his original quote to the YMCA. He said he has stuck to that quote and lost money on the project, and the extra costs to his company have made things move slowly. Prior to the YMCA considering litigation, Roesner said he needed to finalize another sale before continuing the work.

Roesner said he was planning on retaining a lawyer, but has not yet done so. The additional legal expenses may be more than he can afford, he said.

Knight declined to comment on Roesner's claim he had authorization and said the YMCA is still investigating the matter.

Knight said the YMCA likely will receive the final inspection report in two to three weeks, but it may take longer, depending on the lab's schedule. Once the YMCA receives the report, its leaders will decide whether to find a new company to complete the project, if they want to pursue litigation against Charter Matrix or continue out the final weeks as planned, Knight said. Everything “hinges on the report,” he said.

Until then, work on the dome is halted, Knight said. The YMCA has found no apparent issues with the dome, he said. Knight said it can withstand snow and ice, but was intentionally deflated in late December to save on energy costs. Until work starts up again, that's likely how it will stay, he said.

Once work resumes, Knight said, the dome will be about six weeks away from completion. Workers still have to install lights, insulation and the floors, bring in all the sports equipment and complete fencing and landscaping projects around the property. At the moment, he said, he was not sure when the dome will open.

Once completed, the dome will be a shared space for USD 457 and the YMCA, open to Kenneth Henderson Middle School activities during school hours and to the YMCA at all other times. The 118-by-223-foot facility will consist of three multipurpose courts for basketball, volleyball, soccer and tennis, a line of baseball and softball batting cages and a walking track.


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