Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Thursday, October 13, the City of Hattiesburg filed a request for arbitration with FEMA over decisions regarding Timberton Park Complex, which was damaged in the 2017 tornado that wreaked havoc throughout the eastern and southern parts of the city.
“We will continue to fight for what the City and our taxpayers are owed in regard to the destruction of Timberton Park during the 2017 tornado,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “We want a thriving park for the neighborhoods that were affected by the tornado, but we want them built to the standards to which they deserve. The FEMA process has continued to be difficult, and we believe that this is the next best step to pursue every dollar and resource available.”
The request for arbitration comes after receiving notice in August that an appeal sent to FEMA over insufficient funding obligations for Timberton Park was denied.
Barker added, “This has been a long, hard-fought battle. But it’s very important that we go after every dollar possible so that this park is restored to the investment it is worth. We believe the arbitration process is set up for situations just like this.
An arbitration request is a final step in FEMA’s appeal process, which is pursuant to the provisions of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act Section 1219, which amended Section 423(d) of the Stafford Act (42 U.S.S. 5189a).
The date of arbitration is assigned within six to eight weeks of filing. This process is conducted by the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA), and it includes presenting before a 3-judge panel.
This process was also followed for Fire Station #2 which was also destroyed during the 2017 tornado. In July 2021 the CBCA ruled in favor of the City.
A timeline for Timberton Park Complex is as follows:
|January 21, 2017||Timberton Park Complex is destroyed by 2017 Tornado.|
|May 1, 2017||FEMA Cost Estimation Format calculates damages totaling $565,572 to Timberton that was based on a site visit by city staff and FEMA. It was not based on an engineer’s report, as required by FEMA for large category projects.|
|June 20, 2018||The City of Hattiesburg appeals the original damage estimates of $565,572 to FEMA with an engineer estimate of $2,455,418.00.|
|October 18, 2018||Fire destroyed the large press box at Timberton. It sustained minor damage during the 2017 tornado. The City of Hattiesburg was paid in the amount of $147,287.43|
|April 1, 2019||FEMA issues revised Cost Estimating Format of an additional $1,888,182 for a total of $2,456,078.48 obligated for repairs at Timberton Complex.|
|August 20, 2019||Congressman Steven Palazzo announces the obligation of $1.4 million for Timberton Complex.|
|September 26, 2019||The City of Hattiesburg receives an obligation letter of $2,456,078.48 for Timberton Park Complex. However, it was determined that approximately $957,683.00 was omitted from cost revisions related to project management and construction trade requirements such as permits, safety & security, bonds, insurance and architect/engineering costs.|
|September 29, 2019||The omissions related to the most recent obligation were submitted to FEMA for correction.|
|January 21, 2020||3rd Anniversary of the 2017 Tornado.|
|February 13, 2020||The City of Hattiesburg receives a letter from FEMA that $1,717,425.48 of the $2,456,078.48 obligated for the repair of the Timberton Park Complex was de-obligated due to FEMA re-inspection.|
|April 29, 2020||The City of Hattiesburg files an appeal to the February 13 obligation letter.|
|August 19, 2020||The City of Hattiesburg receives notices that FEMA received the first appeal for 4295-DR-MS City of Hattiesburg Project Worksheet (PW) 44.|
|December 4, 2020||The City of Hattiesburg receives an email update from MEMA Director of Public Assistance that the appeal remains in process.|
|January 28. 2021||City of Hattiesburg receives email update from Mike Siler, MEMA Director of Public Assistance, that the appeal for 4295-DR-MS City of Hattiesburg Project Worksheet (PW) 44-Timberton is still in FEMA Review.|
|August 16, 2021||The City of Hattiesburg receives a determination letter from FEMA stating that the City’s appeal has been denied, again.|
|October 14, 2021||The City of Hattiesburg files a Request for Arbitration by the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) under the arbitration rights set forth in section 423 of the Stafford Act.|