November 28, 2014

Intermittent clouds

Agreement settles legal feud between Elyria, pump plant contractor

ELYRIA — The city just wanted a new high-service pumping station at its Lorain water pumping plant. What it got was a project that dragged on for nearly three years and an arduous lawsuit.

A settlement approved by City Council on Tuesday night aims to allow for the completion of the project and puts an end to the civil case.

Law Director Scott Serazin called the agreement the best kind of settlement because neither side is happy. In the deal, Bay Mechanical, which was hired to complete the project, agrees to finish work by Nov. 7 and the city agrees to pay all of the money it has withheld for lack of work plus an additional $44,000 to cover a change order long approved for the project.

“A major goal for us was to get the project done,” Serazin said. “This settlement achieves that. But I don’t think anyone is happy. In fact, I know neither side is happy because we will never know what truly happened — if our design of the project was faulty or if it was the contractor’s work.”

Even with the additional $44,000 over the original contract, Serazin said he doesn’t consider the settlement a loss. Litigation alone on both sides has cost thousands.

“We lost time, and that’s more important,” he said. “It cost us staff time from being in court and for that we are not happy, but Bay Mechanical also spent a lot of money on attorney fees, engineers and expert witnesses. We were set for a three-week trial before the judge ordered us into mediation.”

Why the project failed may never be known.

Representatives from Bay Mechanical did not attend the meeting.

Serazin said the first issue came up in 2012 when it came time to put in the foundation for the building to house the new high service pumps. It sank almost two inches into the soil.

Almost immediately it set off a contentious relationship between the project manager and Bay Mechanical, which led Bay Mechanical to hire a second engineering company to come up with a plan to fix the building, which is something the city required before the project could continue.

“It was supposed to take 18 months to complete this project, but there were so many delays,” Serazin said. “The city started to assess liquidated damages of $1,200 a day for every day it was delayed. Eventually, Bay Mechanical just walked off the job.”

The pumps were installed in November and have been operational intermittently, Serazin said.

In the coming weeks, small fixes will be done by Bay Mechanical as well as connecting a new electrical system to the pump. Once the work is complete and the pumps have been tested, the project will close out.

Adding the new high service pumps at the water pumping plant was important for the city because it serves municipalities outside of Elyria including Amherst, North Ridgeville and the Rural Lorain County Water Authority.

“We are in a good position with our water plant,” he said. “We have the capacity to pump more water. Our intakes are further out and deeper than other pumping plants, and we don’t have problems like frazil ice.”

Accumulations of frazil ice — needle-shaped crystals — in Lake Erie clogged pipes in the Avon Lake water plant in January and affected Elyria’s water intake system in March.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

  • B4CE

    That’s what happens when you go with the cheapest, lowest non union scab bidder.

    • Bill Love

      because union shops do great work just look at Elyria high school or justice center. I know a lot of non union company’s that do much better work then unions companys. yeah you have to watch them scab bidders they only give you a fair price for the work they actually do unlike union contractors

      • B4CE

        Did you not read the article or were you were hoping I didn’t? Either way, the article doesn’t do much to support your argument.

        • Bill Love

          yes I read the can you base all non union companys off Bay Mechanical first off. Second union companys mess up too so there goes your non union scab remark.3rd its kinda of hard to build a building when the foundation is not installed properly.

        • Pablo Jones

          What in the article supports your point? No fault was assigned to either party. It looks like the person who really failed was the project managers since he couldn’t keep the project on track and manage the issues that arose.

    • Joe Smith

      Better than using a “I don’t care because I can’t get fired” union member.
      Shoddy work at twice the price.

      • B4CE

        Obviously not in this case.

        • Bill Love

          Still no answer go back to mommy’s basement you are a joke

          • B4CE

            Impressive, what an original out down! A sure fire way to win an internet argument !

          • Bill Love

            did you mean cut down? still no answer

          • B4CE

            Morning sunshine! Iv reviewed your posts, I fail to see where you posed a question.
            Glad you are awake to enjoy the day

          • Bill Love

            good morning ive been awake since 6:30 just been busy at work today just now taking lunch.My question is how can you label all non union companys as non union and workwith both union and non union companys. Hope you are enjoying this beautiful day

          • B4CE

            I did not call all non union shops scab companies. I call Bay Mechanical a scab company.

  • Edward Nonamaker

    There is or was a less expensive alternative to the ” frazil ” ice blockage problem and that would have been a temperature operated warm water by-pass that mixed tempered water with the colder water at the inlet . 45 or 50 degree water at the inlet being recycled depending on temperature would erase that problem .

  • luvmytoaster

    Ahhh, the lawyers always make out don’t they?

  • Edward Nonamaker

    And in the end , its always the tax payer that fronts the bill for these types of fiascos , and unfortunately it is a common practice among local Governments to allow such things to happen .

  • Rufus

    Sounds like the old pump and dump scheme…………………………………….