Rice Twp. Will File Suit Over Dam Work
After nearly eight months of negotiations, Rice Twp. supervisors voted this week to file a lawsuit against A.R. Popple Construction, Inc. and its bond company, Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co. to recover costs associated with the long-delayed Ice Pond dam outlet project.
Supervisors directed special counsel Raymond Wendolowski to proceed with the lawsuit to recover costs associated with re-bidding the project; work done by Popple that must be redone because the township claims Popple failed to meet project goals; and cost overruns.
They also authorized township engineer Andrew Pasonick of Penn Eastern Engineers to begin the bid process to engage a “capable contractor” to complete the project.
In December 2017, supervisors awarded AR Popple a $179,500 contract for repairs the dam by building a temporary diversion dam to get to the main vessel. In late February 2018, the contractor started the process of lowering the water level in the lake to allow access to a pipe in the dam wall. By early March, Pasonick reported Popple had completed about 25 percent of the de-watering process needed to construct a coffer dam.
However, in mid-May, the contractor halted work on the project, leaving behind a muddy lake bed.
“Basically the dam they built did not do the one thing it was supposed to do — keep out the water,” Wendolowski said.
Tony Popple, a vice president with A.R. Popple, said work was halted because the company wasn’t being paid.
“Right now they owe us a lot of money,” Popple said.
He said the company would respond further once they receive a lawsuit and likely will countersue.
At their August 2018 meeting, supervisors refused to pay a $33,345 bill submitted by AR Popple for work on the Ice Lakes dam project. They subsequently hired Wendolowski to negotiate a settlement with Popple’s bonding company. That negotiation did not bring about an agreement, prompting supervisors to file the lawsuit.
Township officials have been dealing with the Ice Lake dam issue for three years. In late summer of 2015, property owners around the lake notified the township, which owns the lake, that the water level was dropping. At the time, engineers determined the problem was a valve in a drain pipe in the dam.
The township received a Local Shares Account (gaming) grant and a grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development to be used for the project. Supervisors voted to request extensions of those grants to June 30, 2020.
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