More water project change orders irk Springdale councilmen | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

More water project change orders irk Springdale councilmen

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Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
Springdale’s water treatment plant.

Another costly change order for Springdale’s water system renovation project prompted two councilmen to put the heat on the project’s engineer — again.

Councilmen Frank Forbes and Mike Ziencik questioned project engineer Kevin Szakelyhidi, of Bankson Engineers, this week about a change order of more than $24,000 council was being asked to approve.

The change order was for installing pipes for the softener system at the water plant, which was not included in the original list of items needed for the $7.5 million water system project.

Forbes questioned why council has had to continue approving payment for such work and asked why the original plans did not include the softener pipes.

“A lot of it is stuff that sort of gets uncovered during construction,” Szakelyhidi said.

Forbes said he calculated the change orders that have occurred so far and they amount to about $200,000.

But Szakelyhidi said that, including the newest change order request, they actually total about $160,000. He said $125,000 of that is for one item, an emergency generator. He mentioned that to council back in January.

The generator was not originally included in the project because First Energy had two separate electrical lines from separate substations supplying power to the plant. Borough officials thought a back-up generator was not needed because, if a power outage knocked out one electrical line, it would still receive power from the other line.

However, during the past few months, First Energy notified the borough that it was shutting down one of the electrical lines, leaving the plant without a back-up. That necessitated the purchase of back-up generator to run the pumps at the plant if an outage occurs.

On Tuesday, Ziencik became visibly angry as he questioned Szakelyhidi about the continuing flow of change orders, at one point slamming his hand on the table in front of him.

“It seems like Bankson doesn’t care because it’s not their money — just shove it to the residents,” Ziencik said.

“I’m getting killed out here,” he continued. “People keep coming up to me and asking, ‘Why are our water bills so high?’”

“It’s the nature of construction,” Szakelyhidi said of the change orders.

Ziencik said he didn’t want to hear it.

“We need to get our head in the game,” he said.

Councilman David Spirk, water department chairman, said, “As you proceed with the project, you are finding things that you didn’t know until we get into construction.”

It wasn’t the first time that Forbes and Ziencik put Szakelyhidi on the hot seat regarding change orders. In January they expressed their unhappiness when the engineer brought $41,000 in change orders to be approved, and $29,000 of it was for unforeseen items.

“A plant that was built in the 1920s, you’re going to run into things,” Szakelyhidi said. “Our overage (on costs) is about 2 percent of the total construction, and that includes the generator.”

Szakelyhidi’s report was not all bad. He said the contract to install service lines between the new waterline and homes along the street came in below estimates, which saved about $30,000.

He said about 90 percent of the pipes that had to be installed on the plant grounds have been installed and about 80 percent of the work on the storm sewer system had been completed. Also, brick work on the water plant and the electrical building is completed, he said.

Council approved payment of about $601,000 to contractors on the project for work that’s finished.

That included about $21,300 worth of bills from Bankson Engineering, which were approved in a 6-1 vote with Ziencik voting against that payment.

He also was the only vote against paying the change order for the softener pipe work.

Overall, Szakelyhidi said about 50 percent of the project work has been completed and delivery of the new water filters is expected April 1.

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