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City Of Bethel Suing BNC Subsidiary For Alleged Defects In Fitness Center Construction

The pool at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Fitness Center in Bethel.
Dean Swope/KYUK

The City of Bethel is suing a subsidiary of Bethel Native Corporation, Bethel Services, Incorporated (BSI), for what it claims was defective construction of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Fitness Center. 

The city contracted BSI to construct the center for an amount that exceeded $20 million. That work was finished, and the facility opened in 2014.

The city’s lawsuit claims that in the time since, Bethel experienced unusually mild winters until last year, when the city said that it experienced a more typical Bethel winter, featuring high winds and regular subzero temperatures. The facility experienced what the city’s lawsuit calls a “catastrophic failure,” and the facility was forced to close for 10 days when the pipes for the swimming pool froze. The city claims that the building’s malfunction was caused by insufficient insulation, a leaky and rusty roof, and piping that was exposed to the cold in such a way that it froze and burst.

While the two-year warranty period for the building had passed, the city says that the contract still requires BSI to remedy or compensate the city for the cost of damages caused by its allegedly defective work. The city has another company fixing the fitness center, and is seeking between $300,000 and $500,000 from BSI to pay for it.

BSI has filed a response in court, which denies the city’s allegations. The pre-trial scheduling conference is scheduled for Nov. 30.

Greg Kim is a news reporter for KYUK covering environment, health, education, public safety, culture and subsistence. He's covered everything from Newtok's relocation due to climate change-fueled erosion to the Bethel chicken massacre of 2020.
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