BUFFALO, N.Y.- Crews were out at Buffalo's MLK Park Thursday, pouring cement as part of work on the Humboldt Basin project.
When it's done, the basin will reclaim its storied position as the heart of the park. It will be a reflecting pool in the spring and fall, an ice skating rink in the winter, and in the summer, it will be a splash pad.
The problem is, many residents say they were expecting it to be completed July 1st, and on a very hot July 5th, it was still very much under construction.
"We are not satisfied with the progress," said Samuel A. Herbert, of the Coalition to Save MLK Park. "There's been a lot of double talk."
Pouring the concrete panels started this week, but at a rate of two or three a day and more than 70 to go, the contractor, Man O' Trees, estimate it won't be completed until August 24th. That's weeks after the initial July 1st deadline.
2 On Your Side's Sarah Hopkins asked Masten District Councilman Demone Smith about the deadline.
Smith: That's what was initially agreed upon, when they initially signed the contract.
Hopkins: So to your knowledge, what happened?
Smith: You'll have to leave it up to the contractor.... I guess they ran into some snags, from what I know of.
So, we took the question to Man O' Trees Owner David Pfeiffer, who said the delays were caused a few months ago, when the city added a "knee wall" to the project. He says it was an important addition but, "we had to get it completed, which set the schedule back." He added that his crews are working overtime.
In the past ten years, the park has seen a number of upgrades including newly restored historic bathrooms, new pathways, new shelters, and new swings.
However, this $3 million project is the one everyone's been waiting... and waiting for.
"Everyone was told, be patient, we're going to have this done by July 1st," said Herbert.
City of Buffalo spokesman Mike De George said in a statement that "The city continues to work with the contractor to get this done as quickly as possible. We've updated the community throughout this process, as soon as it looked like their would be delays."
He also added that the city wants it done as quickly as possible, but it wants it done right; a sentiment Smith shares.
Sarah Hopkins: "You said you want it done right, which I know everybody wants it done right, but are you satisfied with the job this contractor's been doing?
Demone Smith: Well, right now the contractor's still working on the job, so I don't think that you would criticize a barber while their doing your hair."
Herbert is so frustrated, he said he is planning a community meeting on July 16th at the park to address the delays. He said he's contact the state Attorney General.