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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Brantwood Road Culvert Lining...

We will be back with the bookkeeper overtime payment saga (you won't believe what we have found... some documents might prove problematic for Ms. Fairbrother and the town board), but today we thought we would tell the story of the Emergency Stormwater job that went astray.

At the June 11, 2008 town board meeting, then Highway Superintendent Roger Cleveland filled the Town Board in on the discussions of the previous Stormwater Committee meeting:
Discussion of problem in the area of Bradley Road and Brantwood Road– listed on the original list of projects. The Town has the opportunity to use a driveway and backyard for access to perform remedial work – headwall is deteriorating, conveyance pipe is rotting and water doesn’t always flow in the pipe, sometimes under it. This is a system the Town installed a number of years ago. Transports tremendous bed load downstream that plugs catch basins and culverts and results in significant flooding. Have asked Shumaker Engineering to prepare a remediation plan.
The Town Board unanimously approved that:
"the Town Supervisor to enter into and to execute an Agreement between said Town and Shumaker Engineering, the latter of whom shall develop a design and contract specifications with regard to the Bradley-Brantwood Road emergency drainage remediation, at a cost not to exceed Nine Thousand Eight Hundred Dollars ($9,800)."
With Shumaker as the engineer for the project, the Invitation to Bid was advertised in the August 8, 2008 Observer Dispatch. Since this was an "emergency" situation, the Invitation to Bid also stated:
This is a rapid turn-around bid and construction contract, and only bidders able to obtain the required bonding within three (3) days of receipt of Notice of Intent to Award will be considered for this project.
On August 15, 2008, bids were opened and as a result, the project was awarded to Central New York Construction, Inc. as the low bidder and on September 11, 2008, then Highway Superintendent Roger Cleveland sent a Letter of Intent to Katrina Hanna, President of Central New York Construction, Inc. stating that their bid was the lowest responsive, responsible bid.

On September 23, 2008, Roger Cleveland sent a Notice to Proceed letter to Katrina Hanna, President of Central New York Construction, Inc.

According to documents we FOILed, the owner of the property is Mr. Steven Kowalski (we Googled the name and believe he is the owner of Empire Recycling). According to a memo we obtained through FOIL, Mr. Kowalski was even part of developing the remediation plan and even offered to provide the piping needed to slip-line the existing culvert at his cost. We have no information as to whether or not the Town took him up on his offer.

At the October 22, 2008 town board meeting, Roger Cleveland brought a matter to the town board regarding the "emergency" stormwater situation on Brantwood Road:
Brantwood project – project commenced several weeks ago – was designed for slip lining of existing pipe. Discovered some bends that were not picked up by tv camera and one joint deflected and kept slip lining from going. Excavation was required and a lawn and irrigation system in the lawn was damaged. The Highway Superintendent presented a change order from the original quote of $81,500 to $89,715 because of the extra work. Supervisor Reed requested that the matter be tabled until the November 5, 2008 Town Board meeting.
We audio-recorded that discussion...you will find it interesting to note what explanation Roger Cleveland gave as to why the Change Order was needed and why the town board tabled the matter...you will need Windows Media Player to listen.

Then on October 27, 2008, we attended the first Stormwater Meeting open to the public. On the agenda was the Brantwood project. Mr. William (Curt) Nichols from Shumaker Engineering was the speaker...we also audio-recorded that meeting...again, you will find it interesting to note the explanation Mr. Nichols gave for the Change Order as compared to Roger Cleveland's explanation on October 22, 2008. On this audio-recording, Ed Wiatr from Concerned Citizens is heard asking the questions of Mr. Nichols.

So we have Roger Cleveland audio-recorded saying that the Change Order was because they had to tear up an automatic irrigation system in the lawn and yet Mr. Nichols from Shumaker says on the audiotape that is not true that the irrigation system was damaged...instead he said it was a major excavation job in the owner's front yard. Mr. Nichols also said that Roger was able to get the Change Order approved. Not true, Mr. Nichols.

Actually, Mr. Cleveland presented the Change Order to the Town Board for authorization on October 22, 2008. According to Mr. Nichols, the work was done and the contractors left the job site about one and a half weeks prior to the October 27, 2008 Stormwater Meeting. That would mean that approximately October 16th or 17th the work was completely done...except that Mr. Cleveland hadn't even come to the Town Board for authorization until October 22nd. According to the document that we obtained through FOIL, the Change Order that Roger Cleveland presented to the Town Board had already been signed by Mr. Cleveland as Authorized Signature for the Town; William Nichols from Schumaker Engineering; and Katrina Hanna as President of CNY Construction on October 9, 2008. Unfortunately, Roger Cleveland was not authorized to sign on behalf of the town without Town Board Approval and the Town Board tabled the matter at the October 22nd meeting stating that the matter would be revisited at the November 5, 2008 Town Board Meeting.

Bottom line:

The Change Order was never approved by the Town Board at the November 5th meeting. In fact it was never mentioned at the November 5, 2008 town board meeting and has never been mentioned or approved subsequent to the November 5th Town Board Meeting. Yet, on January 7, 2009 Richard Sherman the current Highway Superintendent approved the voucher for payment of $89,415 from the Stormwater Bond to Central New York Construction, Inc. including the additional $7,900 for the work performed per the "unapproved" Change Order.

There lingers a question as to whether the Change Order work was contractor negligence. Roger Cleveland stated at the town board meeting that "the contractor used the plans that were provided but had not reviewed the tv'ing [television camera] documents"...should they have? Mr. Nichols said there was 200 ft of culvert, but they were only able to view 60' from one end and 40' from the other end leaving 100 ft of piping in the middle that they couldn't view with their camera. So basically, they could only view half of the culvert they intended to fix.

Or should Shumaker Engineering be held liable since as the Engineer of the project, they probably would have been in charge of using the camera to inspect the existing pipe for potential problems. In the email we received through the FOIL process, Mr. Nichols states that "he just got badly burned to the tune of $10K on a state project, and Linda [the owner of Shumaker] is watching me very closely." Is that why Roger Cleveland signed the document before he even presented it to the Town Board for authorization...so that Mr. Nichols didn't have to tell his boss that he just screwed up another almost $10,000 project? By the way, the Schumaker invoice came in as exactly $9,800 just as the maximum that was allowed by the June 11, 2008 town board resolution...surprise, surprise! By the way, this money was spent out of the $2 million Stormwater Bond!

So how soon will it be before Attorney Green once again attends a town board meeting and proposes a "retroactive resolution" to Close the barn doors before the horses get out?

After 3 years of this town board, Concerned Citizens thinks the only things left in the barn are the Town Attorney and the 5 horses' a$$e$...



5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn't there any other Engineering Firm in Central NY than Schumaker? They seem to do it all for New Hartford and the Town of Whitestown. And its funny,
the amounts that the charge are always exactly even
amounts. It seems this is another "smelly" situations
in New Hartford.

Anonymous said...

Shame on you for that picture of 5 horses asses.

Those good looking horses should not be denigrated by being compared to the worst Town Board in the history of New Hartford.

Might I suggest a picture of Howdy-Doody or Alfred E.Neuman be used instead?

Anonymous said...

Every engineering firm carries what is called "errors & omissions" insurance. At a minimum, in the interest of the Town taxpayers, the Town should file a claim against Shumakers E&O policy for reimbursement of the additional costs. It is difficult to prove negligence, but it would cost the Town little to file this claim. Shumaker needs to be held accountable if information was missing from the drawings that caused the Town to incur additional costs. Given the relationship that Shumaker has with all the Towns in that area - I would love to know more about their "marketing" efforts.

Mango Man said...

There is a Hispanic Engineering Firm in the Utica area whose curriculum vitae speaks for itself. In fact, when I reviewed the submissions, this local Hispanic firm's credentials were far superior to those of Linda Shumaker and her band of renown, if you no what I mean?

In fact, the entire Town Board is one of the most discriminatory boards inclusive of any Planning Board, Zoning Board, etc.

When has there ever been a person of color, hispanic, or other minority? One need only go to the New Hartford Police Department. Not one minority on it's force.

It is high time the NAACP and other minority organizations look into this town's employment and business practices. These officials have to go.

Incidentally, I do agree the horses arsses are much prettier than the town's elected officials. Is there another part of a horse's anatomy that may be fitting?

Anonymous said...

I have never seen any other area of this county with so many "storm water" management issues.

Typical NH mumbo-jumbo garbage as always.

Too bad more people dont care, because the "gang" that runs NH shouldn't be allowed to run a lemonade stand.