Ferguson team won $7M deal despite low ranking, witness says

Heilmann Recreation Center

A $7 million city contract awarded to a team that included ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s pal Bobby Ferguson fell behind schedule and was poorly manned, a city official testified Monday.

LaJuan Wilks recounted her experience overseeing construction of the Heilmann Recreation Center project and said she was surprised the contract was awarded to Ferguson’s team, which ranked far behind the leading bidders.

LaJuan Wilks

Wilks testified after Ferguson’s partner on the job said he won the $7 million contract after buying Kilpatrick suits and donating $10,000 to the ex-mayor’s nonprofit group.

Wilks said the project was undermanned and fell behind schedule by winter 2005.

“At that time, the building was not enclosed,” said Wilks, the city’s construction project coordinator. “We were at the point where they should have had it enclosed and we were still discussing closing it up and it had already been a year.”

There were other problems, she said.

The parking lot was inadequate, the heating system was poorly designed and the recreation center’s atrium was unusable for community programs, she said.

Robert Snell
Robert Snell is the Detroit News federal courts reporter. He can be reached at rsnell@detnews.com or (313) 222-2028.