BUCKEYE LAKE – Village officials continue to debate whether to file a lawsuit against M-E Companies, the Westerville -based engineering company that designed the village’ s water distribution system and managed the separate street paving project that followed installation of the distribution system.
M-E listed its scope of work on its invoices for the street paving project as: “Buckeye Lake street paving includes detailed plans and specifications, cost estimate, assistance with OPWC funding, contract documents and bidding forms, bidding process, construction administration and inspection.” Total payment to M-E was set at $85,000 for the street paving project.
As soon as paving work began, The Beacon, in a series of editorials, demonstrated that the paving contractor, Chemcote, was ignoring key specifications such as thoroughly cleaning the surface before applying new asphalt, the use of a tack coat and thickness of the new asphalt surface. The editorials noted that these contract violations were repeatedly being done in the presence of M-E’s onsite inspector. M-E charged $70 per hour for its on-site inspector.
Repaved streets, starting with Cranberry Lane, began breaking up within months of the work. The work began in late July 2010 and was completed in October. Chemcote is believed to be no longer in business.
Monday evening, village council member and public service committee chair Arletta Ruton said Tim Matheny, who was village service director at the time of the repaving roughly four years ago, said the paving contract was followed and there is nothing in the verbiage to hold ME responsible for the condition of the streets.
Council and public service committee member Peggy Wells said she asked to have Matheny or another village representative from that time period attend a committee meeting to discuss the situation. She also said she distributed some material regarding the streets for committee members to read weeks before the Monday night meeting, but some members said they weren’t aware the paving contract would be discussed at this particular meeting. Wells suggested tabling the topic until committee members were prepared to discuss it, but discussion continued.
“I think we know how the streets are failing,” Wells said, adding that a lot of money was wasted. “We should seek restitution for it.”
Mayor Clay Carroll said he couldn’t find a description of what ME was responsible for. He said village Streets Superintendent Mark Dymek said the problem is in the sub-base of the streets. Carroll said litigation would be expensive and the village solicitor doesn’t believe the village has a case against ME Companies. “It was done five years ago,” he said. The work was actually done July – October 2010, four years ago.
Council and public service committee member Barry Herron asked if the contract refers to just patching the streets following installation of the public water distribution system or replacing the asphalt and grinding below the surface.
“Sounds to me like it’s the whole job, not just the patching,” Wells said. She suggested contacting M-E for the job specifications. “I strongly believe we need to hire an attorney, pay the money,” she said.
“If M-E has it, we need to get it,” said Herron. He said village officials must determine if the contract says the repairs were only cosmetic or if the contract called for a major repaving.
Actually, as The Beacon repeatedly pointed out four years ago, the contract specifically called for 2” of asphalt, a tack coat, a prime coat and pavement planing. The Beacon still has copies of those documents.
“We didn’t have millions of dollars,” said Charlene Hayden, who was council president at the time. She said the contract called for cosmetic resurfacing all over the village. Hayden said the contractor probably should not have ground down asphalt that was still good.
Water Supervisor Toby Miller said Cranberry and Misty lanes have suffered damage, but 95 percent of asphalt breakup is over waterlines.
Wells said the contractor should’ve done the more heavily traveled roads correctly.
Carroll wondered if the village would really spend its time wisely questioning M-E Companies.
Wells said no one is sure the village wouldn’t benefit from a lawsuit.
“Where do we get the money (for a lawsuit),” Ruton said.
“I think you’re wheel-spinning,” Hayden said. “A lawsuit just costs time and money.”
Herron said the committee should find in the contract if the streets were to be resurfaced after the water system installation or if the contract called for a major repaving.
It was a complimentary, yet totally separate project with its own Project Agreement with the Ohio Public Works Commission. The water system contractor was relieved of its responsibility to repave the areas torn up during installation. That money supplemented the OPWC grant and loan.
Ruton said it was just a resurfacing.
Village council president Jeryne Peterson said the contract was clear that it was only a resurfacing. She believes the contract did not call for a grinding of the surface beneath the asphalt of all village streets. “We couldn’t afford that,” Peterson said.
Council and committee member Margaret Hanson said the committee should acquire a copy of the specifications from ME Companies. “Maybe we can do something about it, or maybe we can put it to rest,” she said.
Carroll said he would look for the specifications and contact M-E if they are not available at the Village Office.
In other committee discussion, committee members agreed to recommend to council that the village join the WARN, or Water/ Wastewater Agency Response Networks, which is a volunteer based utility-to-utility network that prepares for disasters, and then helps member-utilities respond and recover by providing personnel and equipment to each other when and where they’re needed. Miller said there is no cost to join.