BUCKEYE LAKE – Two Buckeye Lake Village Council members wanted to withhold the final payment to engineering firm M•E Companies and paving company Chemcote until they know specifically what will be done to repair potholes and cracks on village streets.
Village streets were completely repaved just seven months ago following the installation of a public water distribution system. However, the majority of council members voted to approve the $5,963 final payment and take Chemcote at its word that it will return and repair the damage.
Mayor Rick Baker explained Tuesday that Chemcote is under contract to warranty its paving job one year from “substantial completion,” which should be “from around mid September.” He said repairs should be completed once the freeze/ thaw season ends at no charge to the village.
“ We do have damaged streets,” said council member Jeryne Peterson during Monday night’s village council meeting. She said she understood that Chemcote will “make corrections” to the streets.
Council member Donna Thompson asked what if other streets sustain damage after Chemcote repairs the existing damage and the warrantee expires. No one was able to answer Monday night.
Council President Charlene Hayden said Cranberry Lane, which has sustained the most damage so far, has experienced heavy truck traffic, specifically trucks hauling concrete to construction projects.
Council member Kaye Hartman said she wanted to withhold the final payment until Chemcote sends a response to the village. “I’m very disappointed in how this whole thing came down,” she said. Hartman said the project engineer said the new asphalt didn’t need a tack coat – which binds the asphalt to the existing surface – because it wouldn’t experience heavy truck traffic. Clearly, this hasn’t been the case, she said. “There should have been tack coat used,” she said.
“I have a bad feeling about this whole thing,” said Hartman. “It was a once in a lifetime crack for the Village of Buckeye Lake to get new streets…I put my faith and my trust in them (M•E) as engineers to look after our best interests and I personally feel like they did not.”
“I can’t get past that,” she added. “This is only the first winter, (the asphalt) has only been down for seven months.” She said she believed M•E was hired to tell the village what to do.
Council member Arletta Ruton and Hartman went back and forth on the extent of repairs to the streets before repaving.
“We hired M•E as professional engineers to tell us what we needed to do and we paid them a lot of money,” Hartman said. “So why didn’t they? They didn’t.”
“Time out,” said Hayden. “We’re not going to solve this now.”
Thompson questioned the lack of the tack coat as well and said she wouldn’t vote to make the final payment either. The rest of council, other than Hartman and Thompson, voted in favor of approving the final payment.
“Shame on you, Ms. Hayden,” said former council member Peggy Wells during the public comment period. She believed Hayden ended the final payment discussion prematurely. Wells passed pieces of broken asphalt to the council members. “I’m appalled,” she said, adding that the village paid $756,000 for streets that didn’t last six months.Wells praised Hartman for having the courage to voice her opinion regarding the streets.
“Good for Kaye, good for Donna for bringing it up – for speaking on behalf of the taxpayers,” she added.
Wells told council they should hold Chemcote and M•E accountable now. She said, “You need to say ‘we’re going to sue your butts if you don’t make it right’.”
Later in the meeting, Wells said that with all the talk nationally of curbing government spending, Buckeye Lake Village officials aren’t doing their part. “If you can’t make a difference on a local level, then God help us,” she said. “The way you waste money, I can’t believe it!”
Wells said she was intending on donating $100 to the Christmas light project but not after the vote to make a final paving payment. Wells urged council to move for a reconsideration. “If you don’t” she said, “I think we need to circulate a petition to get rid of the ‘yes’ voters giving these yahoos – Chemcote and M•E Engineering – another $5,000 when they left us with such a mess.”
“If I was on council, believe me none of this stuff (would have happened.),” she added. “I would have been on top of it.” She accused council members of being unfamiliar with the contract specifications and only relying on what others told them. “ You need to read it with your own eyeballs,” Wells said.
Peterson said she agreed that the streets were paved incorrectly, “but give Chemcote an opportunity to come back and make it right. We had a mud hole before. The company who did this needs to come back.”
In other village news:
• Thompson said she heard there is a letter being circulated claiming that the Village of Millersport, which supplies bulk water to Buckeye Lake Village’s public water distribution system, is raising its water rates by $7 per month because too few Buckeye Lake residents have connected to the distribution system.
“It has nothing to do with (Buckeye Lake), totally,” said Buckeye Lake Fiscal Officer Vince Popo, who is also Millersport’s assistant fiscal officer. He said the Millersport water plant would be operating at a loss in three years if its rates weren’t increased.
“We should’ve raised the rates by $7 when the new plant was built, but we didn’t,” said Popo. “We should’ve done it three or four years ago.” He said the rates were “miscalculated” when the water plant was expanded and Buckeye Lake customers, no matter how many there are, help to lower rates for Millersport customers. The more customers on the water system, the lower the rates, period, said Popo, who added that Millersport may be supplying bulk water to Thurston as well.
Tuesday, Millersport Water Plant Superintendent John Wood said that in 2006 there were discussions about how much rates would have to be increased to upgrade the water plant. “It came to $7 per customer,” he said. Discussion about providing water to Buckeye Lake Village didn’t begin until 2008. “The Village of Millersport took too conservative of an approach,” said Wood, “It’s not because of Buckeye Lake or anything like that.” He said the upgrade took place regardless of Buckeye Lake, and Millersport “evolved” into providing water to other communities. “Buckeye Lake is a good deal for everyone,” said Wood.
• Thompson asked Buckeye Lake Streets Superintendent Mark Dymek why the village is snowplowing part of Grandstaff Street that’s privately owned. “We shouldn’t have to waste fuel to plow (a private road),” she said.
Tuesday, Service Director Tim Matheny said a much shorter section of Grandstaff is actually privately owned, and it wouldn’t make sense for the snowplow to turn around to avoid that section of road instead of simply plowing through it. Also, he said, residents regularly travel that section of Grandstaff to reach their homes.
• Director of Development Valerie Hans said the village’s goal to replace 20 lighted holiday decorations with new ones using energy saving light emitting diodes, or LED, would cost roughly $8,000. She said she’s working on finding grants to cover the cost and considering soliciting for private donations.
• Hans said a derelict house at 54 5th Street was demolished under a federal Neighborhood Stabilization grant the Licking County Planning Commission administered. She said it was the third 5th Street home to be demolished of a total of 28 homes that were demolished as part of the program. Hans said there’s currently no more funding for further demolitions, although she’s hopeful there may be another grant in the future.
• The Main Street Committee, which is exploring means to improve Buckeye Lake’s downtown area, meets Tuesday, March 15, 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church. The public is invited.