Mayor says sewer work will flow on

While acknowledging that work on upgrading the Greenport wastewater treatment plant is about two months behind schedule, Mayor David Nyce said last week he expects to have a definitive plan for getting the project back on schedule within about a week

He coupled that promise, made in an interview on Aug. 26, with a prediction that sewer system ratepayers would see a price increase in 2011, but didn’t offer any indication of what the proposed rate might be.

Trustees Mary Bess Phillips and Chris Kempner have voiced concerns about delays on the $9 million treatment plant upgrade and Ms. Phillips has been asking for a day-by-day schedule of work so she can track its progress.

The mayor promised that the full Village Board will meet with the contractor and engineer of record in late September or early October to establish a clear plan. Ray Dunbar, newly appointed chief wastewater treatment plant operator, will also attend the meeting, the mayor said.

Mr. Nyce focused his comments during the interview primarily on the village’s electric plant upgrade. (See separate story page 30 ).

The mayor said contractors are driving piles for the wastewater treatment plant on Moore’s Lane “at a record rate,” with half of them completed in only three days — far less time than had been expected. Once the piles are completed, excavation around them will take place and then concrete can be poured, moving the project forward, he said.

In June, the mayor and subcontractor Philip Carlucci of Philip Ross Industries exchanged charges and countercharges about project delays, with Mr. Carlucci insisting that the village had slowed the pace of work, while Mr. Nyce said it was PRI that had stalled to complete work for other customers.

“I don’t feel comfortable with the way this is going and the way this is being managed,” Ms. Kempner said at the time.

Similarly, Ms. Phillips, who has been visiting the site regularly, has complained that the engineer of record, Mark Wagner of Cameron Engineering, doesn’t have a regular schedule for when construction workers are to be on site. After one recent visit, Ms. Phillips complained that she’d found Mr. Wagner there alone and that he’d said he didn’t know when contractors would next be back.

As compliance officer for the project, Ms. Phillips said she needs to know what work is being done day-to-day to account for reimbursements due from the state’s Environmental Facilities Corporation, which is funneling $4.3 million in federal stimulus funds to Greenport.

Utilities chief Jack Naylor has blamed most of the early delays on heavy rain last winter and rejected any claim that the village was purposely holding up work.

Then, in May, seepage was discovered in the berm between two lagoons, small pools that aerate and stabilize wastewater. It had to be repaired, losing still more time on the project.

“This is where we should have been at the beginning of the summer,” Mr. Nyce said about the progress to date. But he expressed optimism about being able to get the project back on schedule.

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