One city official pushed back when it came to another change order associated with the $2 million Arbordale reconstruction project.
During the City Council Public Works Committee meeting last week, Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany questioned a $115,000 change order request to be paid to Fabrizi Trucking and Paving, a portion of which addressed utility conflicts.
According to the contract, Fabrizi is responsible for coordination of utility support or relocation.
They have requested two other change orders for idle time and lost production time as a result of third party utilities not being relocated in a timely fashion. They had walked off the job in July for about six weeks due to a direct conflict with the AT&T mainline cable.
As of this past December, $41,788 was paid to Fabrizi for project acceleration and other items linked to utility conflicts. The contractor is requesting an additional $115,351 for lost production and standby time. If approved, the city will pay the company a total of $157,140 for utility conflicts.
“Ultimately the committee and council has to decide what path (to take),” Public Works Commissioner William J. Drsek said. “If we turn this change order down, it will end up in court.
“If you approve it, you will avoid litigation,” he said. If council wishes, the city can press AT&T for not being responsive in coordinating and relocating with the contractor and try to get reimbursed, “but you are dealing with a large corporation that will drag on for years.”
The change order for $115,351 passed 2-1, with Mrs. Meany voting no and Councilmen Marc R. Kotora and Robert Shimits voting yes. The full City Council will consider the matter at its meeting Feb. 18.
“This really fries me,” Mrs. Meany said. “This is not our responsibility. As far as I’m concerned, it’s up to the contractor.
“They come after us because they will get money from us, not AT&T.”
Mrs. Meany went on to say it is not the city’s problem the contractor didn’t realize where those utilities were located.
“It was their responsibility, not ours, and this really bothers me and I get sick of it,” she said.
Mrs. Meany asked Mr. Drsek if Fabrizi tried to work with the city when these utility issues were discovered.
Were they a good partner in resolving this? she asked.
Mr. Drsek said they brought it to the city’s attention, then went to work on the other side of the street before pulling off the job. “Basically, they couldn’t do anything until utilities were relocated,”
Mr. Drsek said. “You could have argued they could have worked to have these utilities relocated.”
Mr. Drsek said he worked with the contractor for some time negotiating change orders and bringing the cost down for the city.
“I just don’t see how it’s the city’s fault,” Mrs. Meany said. “You guys did a great job to try to get things done.” The city looked out for the residents and got the contractor to be more realistic when it came to costs, she said.
“This gets really frustrating of [thinking] what is a court going to think and how will they look at it?” she said. “I try to look at it both ways. Is it worth making a stand to what the reality is?”
Mr. Drsek said he is assuming their next step, if the change order is not paid, is to sue the city.
“It’s not right,” Mrs. Meany said, “but the reality of our world is that this is what is going to happen.
“I know how all this ugliness works,” she said. “This is very difficult for me, but I don’t think this is our fault.”
She was accepting of a past change order to get the project complete for the residents. Many had appealed to city officials for help in moving it along, as well as lack of street lights and poor communication about the project.
At this point, the project is substantially complete, Mr. Drsek said, and the street lights are up. Final grading and seeding on tree lawns still need complete and a walk through is forthcoming.
Considered a large-scale project, work involved a full street reconstruction, including full replacement of the storm and sanitary sewer. The project began in late spring of 2019 and encompassed 1,500 feet of road. The original contract price was $1.83 million. If this recent change order is approved, it will result in a new contract value of about $2 million.
Mr. Kotora said one of the reasons he is supportive of the change order was that there was no question there was a utility conflict in that area. He has issues with this, he said, but “the fact remains that a utility conflict existed in the area.
“That conflict brought about the need for extra work and also brought about the need to have that conflict resolved,” he said.” I don’t think the contractor is in fault for the conflict.”
Mr. Kotora added it is not uncommon to have such conflicts, especially in some of the older areas of the city.
Mr. Shimits said he agrees with Mrs. Meany and this does not sit right with him as well. But, “I’m not going to vote against it. But definitely someone dropped the ball.” He said they should be held responsible but unfortunately, “this is a no-win situation for us.
“Either we fight them and it costs us thousands more of litigation fees or we settle it, lick our wounds and let it go,” Mr. Shimits added.
Mrs. Meany said she is not going to vote for it and it is important for it to come before council. “Somehow we have to stop this,” she said. “If I see any reason this is on us, it would be OK.” But “I can’t vote for it.”
She said she is back and forth as she sees the position the city is in, “but you have to make a stand and say ‘enough is enough.’
“But I am realistic that the lawsuit can end up costing the city a lot more than this, but I feel like I need to take a stand on this,” Mrs. Meany added.