Letters to the Editor

Districts should rely on effective dispute resolutions when moving ahead

I am a professional construction neutral and dispute resolution consultant with more than 35 years of experience. I am watching with some concern the pool dispute play out like so many construction disputes I am brought in to resolve.

As a tax paying member of this wonderful community, I would suggest a more effective dispute resolution approach, which would reflect the overall mutual interests of both parties and the entire Vashon community.

1. Separate the responsibility for the problem from the steps needed to promptly fix the problem first. Legal posturing and positions do not solve any technical problems. This is a common barrier in most construction disputes.

2. Take a mutual interests approach to the negotiated resolution. Conflicting legal interpretations are common in construction disputes, so it is often best to find a mutually-beneficial negotiated solution if possible. A professional facilitator or mediator can be very cost-effective and save both districts legal fees. A facilitated negotiation approach would emphasize the interests of the community stakeholders in quickly resolving the technical issues and opening the pool as scheduled.

3. Elected officials often have concerns about making concessions or settlements. If a settlement is not successful, consider using a neutral arbitrator to promptly and very inexpensively resolve legal and contractual responsibility for the problem. This decision can occur after having provisionally funded the technical fix to the problem.

4. The districts can agree to a provisional funding arrangement to fix the problem pending a final resolution and allocation of the final cost responsibility.  This is common in construction disputes.

I encourage the community to give discretion and space to its elected leaders to make judgments for the overall benefit of the community.

— Ron Leaders

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