Construction Woes Drag On for Magic Springs

Magic Springs and Crystal Falls theme park was supposed to open in mid-April last year.

Instead, construction delays kept it from opening until Memorial Day weekend, and the Lazy River attraction didn't open until the Fourth of July.

Those construction woes still create headaches as four lawsuits wind their way through Garland County Chancery Court.

Low Mountain Construction Inc. of Phoenix is suing Fitraco N.V. of Belgium and Magic Springs Development Co. LLC of Louisville, Ky., saying it wasn't paid for work performed. (Fitraco has since sold its interest in the park to Magic Springs.)

Low Mountain had been hired as a subcontractor by Whitewater West Industries Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, for $2 million. But Magic Springs executives said Low Mountain was paid $1.4 million and then fired. They predict Low Mountain will end up paying Magic Springs because it didn't meet construction schedules.

"It could have been a disaster if we hadn't stepped in when we did," Edward J. Hart, Magic Springs chief executive officer, said.

Magic Springs used the remaining $600,000 of Low Mountain's contract, plus another $400,000, to pay 42 Low Mountain subcontractors and to complete the work, Maria Partlow, director of marketing for Magic Springs, said.

"That meant Low Mountain owed us more than $400,000," Hart said.

Partlow said Low Moun is negotiating a settlement.

Low Mountain attorney David M. Powell of Wright Lindsey & Jennings LLP of Little Rock said he wasn't privy to the negotiations, but he doesn't think Low Mountain will pay Magic Springs.

Low Mountain wasn't licensed with the state Contractor Licensing Board while working at Magic Springs and was fined $10,000 last March.

Whitewater West took over and determined that work subcontracted to Richens Concrete Construction of Hot Springs was substandard, Partlow said. Richens has also sued, seeking $67,482.04 from Fitraco, Whitewater, Low Mountain and Magic Springs.

Neither Richens nor Whitewater was licensed and was fined last March $1,200 and $9,000, respectively.

Magic Springs countersued, claiming Richens owes $44,450 to repair substandard work.

Richard Slagle of Slagle & Gist of Hot Springs, Richens' attorney, said the case will go to trial.

"My guy says he did what he was told by Low Mountain," Slagle said. "We don't care who pays us."

Hot Springs Excavating Co. of Hot Springs sought $105,327.60 from Magic Springs and Fitraco. Under a confidential settlement of that case, Partlow said, Magic Springs recovered money for overbilling.

Hot Springs Excavating was properly licensed.

Meanwhile, Scott Castle Construction Inc. of Hot Springs is seeking $420,000 from Magic Springs and Fitraco. Castle was licensed, but his phone number has changed and is unpublished.

Magic Springs countersued Castle for overbilling after it learned of financial irregularities from Castle's employees, said Mike Fallot, chief financial officer of Magic Springs. In a March 1 motion, Magic Springs said it had not received complete discovery responses from Castle.

Castle's attorney, Charles "Skip" Davidson of the Davidson Law Firm Ltd. of Little Rock, said the suit, set for trial June 20, is in discovery.