Questions Arise over Construction of Pines Pump Station

January 31, 2013
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Not even one month has gone by in the year and City Councillors have already engaged in a major disagreement over the investigation of the brand new Pines Pump Station.

The $1 million station just opened late last year after many years of delays and complications with pricing. Now that it’s open, there are allegations that the station isn’t working correctly. Meanwhile, contractors and Department of Public Works (DPW) officials indicated that the station is just going through initial growing pains, but is working more than adequately.

Councillor Tony Zambuto embarked on a journey to get to the bottom of the situation on Monday night, but appeared to be met with some opposition.

At the outset, Zambuto was met with an unexpected visitor – as an official from the pump station’s design team Brown & Coldwell was in attendance before the motion had even been presented.
Zambuto said he wanted specific information about the design of the station and the as-built plans as well, saying that he wants to make sure the taxpayers got what they paid for.

“I’m getting calls from citizens who have concerns over alarm lights going off down there,” he said. “I’m seeing DPW workers there frequently at this place. In fact, I was there on Saturday and witnessed an alarm and the workers there…There are some games being played here. I want to see the specs and as-built plans to so I can ask intelligent questions. I just want to make sure that $1 million pump station is what the taxpayers paid for. We’re getting a lot of alarms. It may be nothing. That’s fine.”

Later, he added, “I think there could be some major problems down there. Something’s not right. I just need some more information before I can be sure.”

Admittedly, the station has suffered from numerous false alarms being tripped in its sophisticated electronic warning system. Likewise, at the outset, one pump did get clogged, but that apparently was fixed.

“Everything was built according to the specs and it was appropriate and what was there,” said the design firm representative. “That pump station is functioning as designed. There are punch list items that need to be done, but it is working…It’s working efficiently and environmentally sound and I know that because we’ve had three events since it went online. Hurricane Sandy was one of them and two other rain events in December. There were SSOs in the city and sewer backups, but none in the Pines area.”

DPW Superintendent Don Goodwin said the plans are available in City Hall and have been for quite some time.

“A simple phone call could have alleviated all this,” he said.

Goodwin said there have been alarm issues, but that is all part of working out the kinks in the system.

“The easiest thing we could have done is take that system off-line and use the alarm that has always been there,” he said. “That would have been disingenuous. We wanted to use the system we paid for. As far as the operation of the pump station, it’s never failed.”

Zambuto was upended in his quest once more when Council President Ira Novoselsky assigned the matter to the Public Works Committee – a committee to which Zambuto does not belong.

“I see that action as subverting my request,” he said to Novoselsky. “I’m not on that committee and I have a specific request for specs. My motion is specific and calls for everyone to be here…I protest this profusely.”

Replied Novoselsky, “So noted.”

The matter was assigned to the Public Works Committee. Zambuto said he would continue on with the matter until he gets the information he is looking for and is satisfied that the station was built correctly.

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