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How much? Delayed Orchard Park sewer project creates sticker shock

It was bad enough for residents that some sewer bills on a small street in Orchard Park nearly tripled this year because the sewer is being replaced.

But now it's even worse for them: Work on the project has stopped because of a dispute between the town and the contractor.

"We've already paid, and we should be having the benefits of sidewalks and everything being fixed," said Jean B. Myers, who owns a house on Burmon Drive.

And pay they have.

The sewer bill for Myers' house jumped to $923.95, up from $296.06 last year. She said the main issue is homeowners didn't know their bills would go up.

"The work's not even done yet," she said. "We don't think it's fair we're being charged such a high bill."

Accadia Site Contracting was awarded the bid for the job last September. The $2.54 million project includes the total reconstruction and replacement of sanitary sewers, water main, storm sewers, roadway and sidewalks on Burmon.

"This is the biggest road reconstruction we've done in Orchard Park," Supervisor Patrick Keem said.

But now there is no reconstruction on the street, where half the road was torn up. The town issued a stop work order last month, and last week the Town Board terminated the contract with Accadia for what the town says is breach of contract.

The problems come in three areas, according to Town Attorney John C. Bailey. He said there were a number of safety violations affecting Accadia's workers, problems with traffic control, including blocking school buses from coming down the street, and difficulty following instructions from the town.

"They were resisting the engineer's directions," Bailey said.

Accadia said the town has not told his company why it issued the stop work order and terminated the contract. The company denies the charges of breach of contract, said its attorney, R. Anthony Rupp III. The company sued the town for damages because of the stop work order, maintaining every day the project was shut down it cost $35,000 for manpower and equipment. Accadia removed the heavy equipment from the street this week, and cleaned up the area as best as it could, Rupp said.

"I'm flabbergasted. I've never seen anything like this," Rupp said. "This entire job from an engineering standpoint was botched by the town engineer."

The town attorney denied that charge.

Neighbors already were upset when they got their tax bills and saw sewer bills had nearly doubled. The town has some grants to pay part of the bill for the road and sidewalks, but the cost of the sewer portion must be borne by the property owners in Sewer District No. 3, Keem said. He also said a letter was to go out to the owners telling them their taxes were going up.

"The letter was never sent out. I didn’t know that; I assumed the letter was sent out," Keem said, and he apologized to property owners. "This is a terrible burden for some of those people."

Keem and Town Engineer Wayne Bieler said the cost of the sewer portion was estimated to be $1 million, and the bid came in about half of that, so sewer bills should go down next year on the 20-year bond.

Bieler said 105 houses are being affected by the sewer and road project, with 93 households in District 3 and 12 properties in District 18, which is much larger.

Bailey said the town is putting the performance bond carrier on notice about the termination. He said there typically would be a meeting to work things out. If a solution is not reached, he said the town would go with another contractor to finish the job, and would put in a claim to the performance bond company.

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