Slow moving sewer project costs engineers

KINDERHOOK – As the sewer project in the village comes to completion, Village Mayor Carol Weaver has told the engineering firm that designed and inspected the project there is no more money to pay the firm’s overtime.

Mayor Weaver, who attended the November 12 Village Board meeting via Internet video feed from out of town, addressed representatives from Ryan Biggs, Clark, Davis Engineering and Surveying at Village Hall. The company has asked for an additional $42,000 based on services rendered when the project took longer than anticipated.

She said the village is still paying for the sewer project, which connected 33 properties in the village business district to the Valatie Waste Water Treatment Plant. The overall project was originally going to costs about $941,000. The village board had about $700,000 of the total coming from state and federal grants government, $70,000 from private donations and $231,000 the village borrowed to complete the project.

“When we went to the voters, I could only ask for what we needed,” the mayor said of the village referendum that approved the borrowing for the project. She also stressed that much of the grant money could not be used for engineering costs because the Village Board choose to stay with Clark Engineering, though the grants requested the board issue a request for proposals for competitive bids. Last January, Clark Engineering, a New Lebanon firm, merged with the Clifton Park company Ryan Biggs Engineering.

Mayor Weaver said that the people at Clark engineering that she dealt with originally–owner Doug Clark and engineer Erin Moore–knew that the grant money could not be used to pay engineering costs. She also said, “When the project started we asked both Doug and Erin for good numbers,” with the board basing its spending on the project on the amounts provided by the engineering firm. Construction bids came in over the budget Clark had created and the mayor had to ask for more grant money to pay for the project.

“I know that the project has taken longer than we predicted,” Mayor Weaver said.

The construction company assumed it would be a 13-week project but it has now covered about 34 weeks. Clark Engineering is requesting $42,000 to pay for an employee who conducted construction inspections over a period lasting more than twice as long as the firm had predicted.

Mayor Weaver said that the village has $17,000 left in project funds. “We need to finish the project and see how much we have left,” she said.

Jim Dunham, sewer project manager for the village, told the board last week that the construction company is now at the “punch list” phase of the project, indicating it is near completion. “We are close to wrapping up,” he told the board. Several properties along the main streets of the village had already been connected to the Valatie sewer system.

“It’s a big hit to a small company,” said Ann Clark, from the engineering firm . She told the mayor that the engineering firm had gone over budget in other areas of the project but that they were only asking to be compensated for their employee’s time.

“We have done everything we could on behalf of Kinderhook,” Ms. Clark told the board.

The mayor emphasized the lack of money but said she would look at it again when the project is finished.

The Kinderhook Business and Professional Association (KBPA) and the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce are hosting “The Big Flush,” a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon November 18 at the Pump Station at the Palmer Engine & Hose Company, 39 Chatham Street, to celebrate the end of the project.

Also at the November 12 meeting the board:

  • Defeated a motion made by Mayor Weaver to hire a design firm for $36,000 to come up with plans for repaving and replacing the water main on Williams Street. Mayor Weaver said that money for the design was in the budget and that $31,000 of it was coming from the water fund. But board members Brain Murphy, Rich Phillips and Bob Puckett voted against spending the money, with all three saying they first want to see whether the Village Hall roof repair project would move forward this month.

Board member Dale Leiser voted in favor of the motion.

The board is scheduled to meet about plans for the repairs to the Village Hall roof later this month

  • Heard from Renee Shur, the village economic development director, that there will be a pop-up art exhibit at 1 Board Street November 29 from 5 to 7 p.m., with 25% of sales donated to pay for trees to be planted on the main streets in the village
  • Learned that Candle Light Night, the annual holiday celebration in the village, is scheduled for December 12
  • Set a public hearing on proposed local laws to establish property tax exemptions for persons with disabilities, seniors and veterans at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, December 10
  • Changed the date of the Village Elections from Tuesday, March 17 to Wednesday, March 18 pursuant to state election law, which prohibits elections on St. Patrick’s Day.

The next board meeting will be Wednesday, December 10 following the public hearing that starts at 7:15 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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