Pacific Pile & Marine representatives said last week they’re willing to fight in court over the company’s $1.2 million adjustment request for last summer’s boat harbor dredging, according to Haines Borough Manager Debra Schnabel.

The Haines Borough and PND Engineers disputed the contractor’s claim that the dredge basin was harder than described in contract documents, Schnabel said. The borough manager, Mayor Jan Hill, public facilities director Brad Ryan, harbormaster Shawn Bell and PND staff met with Pacific Pile & Marine representatives last week.

“Our position was that we had 100 percent faith in (PND’s) decision,” Schnabel said. “We agreed that the contract documents adequately described the soil conditions, and the claim of differing site conditions had no merit.”

That decision is outlined in a nine-page Jan. 19 report from PND to Pacific Pile & Marine project manager Andy Romine. “Pacific Pile & Marine fails to demonstrate that the site conditions encountered differ than those described in contract documents,” vice president Dick Somerville wrote in the report.

Schnabel recommended settling with Pacific Pile & Marine in recognition of the difficulty of the job.

“I told them a settlement was a long way from the claim of $1.2 million, and actual settlement terms would have to come from the assembly,” Schnabel said. “I told them that a settlement that was within the parameters of the existing contract had a better chance of being accepted over a settlement requiring a contractual change order.”

Pacific Pile & Marine representatives said their claim was worthy of mediation and the cost of litigation, Schnabel said.

  “However, they wanted more time to ‘dig deeper’ into (PND’s decision) and rework their request for compensation based on our observation that (Pacific Pile & Marine’s) work plan was questionable,” Schnabel said.

Pacific Pile & Marine will present their formal decision on Feb. 12 and the two parties will meet again on Feb. 20, Schnabel said.

  In 2013 PND Engineers analyzed the dredge basin for a geotechnical report that was used to determine the project’s expense. In its response to Pacific Pile & Marine’s claim, PND questioned the sample size the company used to test the dredge materials and the accuracy of its testing method, including how the materials were handled and stored.

Pacific Pile & Marine collected samples for testing on Aug. 11 from an area in the southwest corner of the dredge basin near the beach, after the contractor dredged the bulk of the harbor. Pacific Pile & Marine hired geotechnical consulting firm C.W. Felice to assess the dredge materials. The testing company reported the strength of the bulk samples was similar to concrete, rather than soil.

The geotechnical report makes a similar comparison to the dredge materials. “The matrix can often cement the coarser size material and give the soil the appearance and hardness of concrete,” according to PND’s geotechnical report.

Pacific Pile & Marine wrote that the material weighed more than PND reported in contract documents and that the compression strength of the material was “2.5 to 13 times higher” than described in those documents.

There is less than $500,000 remaining in budget’s contingency fees for the harbor project, which would go toward the cost of litigation or settlement fees.