Collier County files $1.2M lawsuit over delayed completion of Marco Island airport terminal

Collier County has sued a contractor over the delayed completion of the Marco Island Executive Airport terminal building that opened earlier this month.

The lawsuit filed March 17 in Collier Circuit Court against West Construction and its insurance company Philadelphia Indemnity demands $1.2 million plus other costs and fees.

"Despite being responsible for planning, organization, supervision, management, control and coordination of work performed on the project, West continually failed to satisfy these responsibilities in breach of the agreement," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges other contract violations like failing to protect internet and sanitary utilities during construction, failing to maintain permits necessary for the work, and "attempting to manipulate the schedule and the project's critical path to obtain additional time to achieve substantial completion and, in turn, limit exposure to liquidated damages."

From the archives:Marco Island airport to get new terminal, hangar space

And in 2019:New terminal, hangars, space: Major upgrades underway at Marco’s airport

The lawsuit alleges that West Construction and Philadelphia Indemnity have failed to pay liquidated damages allegedly owed to the county.

"Collier County does not comment on pending litigation," wrote county community liaison Connie Deane in an email Monday.

West Construction and Philadelphia Indemnity did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday about the lawsuit.

Collier, contractor keep tight lid 

The Florida-based contractor West Construction received a notice to proceed with the construction of the terminal on April 30, 2018, and was required to achieve substantial completion in 320 calendar days, according to the lawsuit. 

Substantial completion is the date when construction is sufficiently complete so the county can utilize the building for its intended use. The lawsuits states West Construction achieved substantial completion on Jan. 22 of this year.

Thaddeus Cohen, who oversees the airport as growth management department head with Collier County, said prior to the lawsuit being filed that the county had difficulties in finishing the project on time, but he declined to go into detail about the reasons for the delay.

"Clearly this has taken longer than what the contract documents have for completion," Cohen said March 2.

The contract with West Construction states the county will suffer a financial loss if the contractor fails to complete the project on time, and that the county is entitled to assess $3,645 in liquidated damages for each calendar day until substantial completion is achieved.

Cohen also declined to go into detail about the contractor's performance and said his focus was to finish the project.

"I'm not in a position to discuss either our position as to the contractor's performance. That will be adjudicated on a later date," Cohen said.

Cohen said the county provided communications to West Construction "to have the contractor understand the importance of being able to move this project forward."

The lobby of the new terminal at the Marco Island Executive Airport, photographed on Monday, March 1, 2021.

Matthew West, vice president of West Construction, declined an interview request last week.

"We are currently in discussions with the county and at this time have no other comment," West wrote in an email March 19.

Cohen said the county will do a self-assessment, which will include the evaluation of the performance of county employees, to prevent long delays in other county projects.

He said he is hopeful that the company in charge of improving the airport's apron, Quality Enterprises USA, will finish in April before a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"We are focusing on trying to meet a completion date so that we can have a ribbon cutting in mid April. The issues as to how we got to where we are, it will be something that we will point to in the future," Cohen said.

Marco Island airport expands

The new $9.5 million terminal opened its doors to the public on March 8 after almost two years of delays.

The two-story, 16,000-square-foot terminal was built to make the airport compliant with Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations, said Andrew Bennett, interim executive airport manager with Collier County.

"The primary objective of the project is pertaining to safety to allow more room for aircraft to maneuver in and out, while also addressing capacity needs to accommodate a greater number of aircraft during the peak season months," Bennett said.

The old terminal at the Marco Island Executive Airport, photographed on Monday, March 1, 2021.

From 2018:County officials break ground for new terminal at Marco Island airport

A second phase costing an additional $3.7 million is underway to improve the airport's apron where aircraft are parked. The old 4,500-square-foot terminal built in the 1970s was demolished earlier this month to make room for the new apron space.

Bennett said the terminal includes features such as pilot and passenger lounges, flight planning stations, rental car concessions, airport administrative offices and office space for flight schools and other companies.

The first phase also included construction of new parking spaces, landscaping, lighting and stormwater retention features.

The lobby of the new terminal at the Marco Island Executive Airport, photographed on Monday, March 1, 2021.

County Commissioner Rick LoCastro, who represents Marco and surrounding communities, said the upgrades increase the airport's capability and safety.

"I'm not happy with the late delivery of the final product, but I'm glad once we pulled the team together and provided tighter oversight we were able to ensure the job was finished," LoCastro said last Friday.

Tenants settle in at new terminal

Alan Davis, president of Career Flight Training and Aircraft Rental, said his flight school students now have a bigger and quieter space to study.

"It was always so noisy in the old office because the airplanes would park right outside our office. You had to put ear protection on and off sometimes," Davis said.

Alan Davis, president of Career Flight Training and Aircraft Rental, photographed in the new terminal of the Marco Island Executive Airport on March 19, 2021.

From 2020:New $9.5M Marco Island airport terminal to open in September following delays; 85% completed

Davis also said the improvements will make the airport safer.

"It makes it a safer environment because the building is further away from the runway," Davis said.

Jim Fogarty, owner of the flight school Fogarty Flying, said the construction of the terminal took longer than expected but that he likes the final product. He said he now has double the space office he had in the old terminal.

"It took a long time but as you can see it is a beautiful terminal," Fogarty said.

Fogarty said the expansion will increase his school's business and improve aircraft traffic flow at the airport.

Jim Fogarty, owner of Fogarty Flying, photographed in the new terminal of the Marco Island Executive Airport on March 19, 2021.

Davis said he has never had so many flight students outside summer, when high school students are out of school.

He attributes the business to the airport expansion and COVID-19. He said many adults are taking flight classes to buy and fly their own planes instead of flying in commercial flights.

"It seems like things are picking up," Davis said.

Contact Omar at, and follow him on Twitter as @Omar_fromPR. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.