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Plaza flooding issues back under discussion
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Discussions continued last week as the Gays Mills Village Board sought a solution to the flooding problems of the newly created plaza, located just uphill from the Gays Mills Mercantile Center.

Vierbicher and Associates, the engineering firm responsible for overseeing most of the work at the village’s flood relocation sites, was instructed by the board on Monday, July 2 to contact the contractor to have the work redone. Last Tuesday, Vierbicher employees were back at the plaza asking village board members to consider alternate solutions to problems created by a concrete job that failed to meet specifications.

What were the original specifications? Drain the plaza downhill.

“The contractor pushed back,” said Vierbicher’s Kurt Muchow. “They feel there is a more economical way to fix this.”

On Thursday, June 28, the village had 800 gallons of water pumped onto the plaza by the fire department to assess the severity of drainage problems. The test showed all of the water collecting in puddles in the plaza none of the 800 gallons managed to drain from the plaza. It appeared that the grading intended to drain the plaza had not been maintained by Augelli, the concrete contractor. The result turned the plaza into an unplanned water catchment.

Vierbicher’s Muchow and Patrick Cleary joined Gays Mills Village President Craig Anderson, village trustee Harry Heisz, and the village’s director of public works Jim Chellevold at a meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 14 in the plaza to discuss the situation. The Vierbicher employees asked the village officials to consider options other than full replacement of the concrete.

On behalf of the contractor, Muchow asked the village board members to reconsider their decision and consider alternatives.

Cleary told the village officials that the site was graded flat because it had been intended as a multiuse site to include an ice rink made on the site during winter. The plaza is an oval about 100 feet long and 50 feet wide.

Chellevold, Anderson and Heisz all refuted the idea. Anderson conceded the ice rink idea may have been proposed in planning meetings, but had not been included in the specifications of the project.

“The intent was clear that it needed to drain,” Muchow said.

“Grading was made to drain but was altered when they poured the concrete?” Anderson asked.

“Yes,” Muchow answered.

“And what were the actual specifications?” Anderson asked.

“To drain off,” Muchow replied, pointing to the northwest egress. “If we did it again we would steepen the slope.”

“But, the specs were pitched to drain,” Anderson reiterated.

“We made it flatter than usual to make it multipurpose,” Muchow said.

According to the Vierbicher representatives, the contractor wanted to drill under the concrete pad from the downhill side and then place drains in the trouble spots to channel collecting water to the storm sewers. Muchow also suggested that rather than tearing up all of the concrete, rows of the blocks could be taken out when the drains were installed and replaced with a colored concrete to give the job a decorative look rather than leaving unmatched areas.

Heisz expressed skepticism that the solution suggested was adequate, though he recognized that redoing the plaza was a complicated job.

“The whole outside wall would have to come out,” Heisz noted, gesturing to the retaining wall that surrounds the plaza on all sides. “You wouldn’t be able to regrade with it in place.”

“If we do this and the problem remains, does this create a new spec that overrides the previous spec?” Anderson asked.

“That’s part of the negotiation with the contractor,” Cleary explained. “If it’s not explicit, it is implicit that they will fix the problem.”

Asked again if the solution would release the contractor from meeting original specifications if the proposed solution failed to correct the problem, Cleary said he did not know.

“That would have to be worked out during our negotiations with the contractor,” Cleary said.

“The contractor needs you to identify the solution,” Cleary continued.

“The village is in no position to say if this is the solution that will fix the problem,” Anderson replied. “That’s the contractors job, the engineers’ job.”

Asked if the proposed solution would fix the problem, Muchow was cautious.

“It should,” he replied with a shrug.

Vierbicher will meet with the public properties committee on August 27 to present all identified options. The committee may make a recommendation. The full board will have to decide what to do at the next regular board meeting.

“I have my reservations,” Heisz said. “I think the solution they are talking about might take care of some of the problem—maybe 80-percent. But, I don’t think it will take care of all of it. But the whole board will have to vote on it—either fix it or replace it.”