City questions how to proceed with water contractor


By Paul Rhodes

CONWAY SPRINGS – Members of the Conway Springs City Council are continuing to discuss how to handle problems with the contractor for the city’s major water project.
That project included a new water tower, water treatment plant and water lines around the community. Through the project, and now that the project has been completed, the city is having problems with work done by Orr Wyatt Streetscapes.
In October of last year, members of the Conway Springs City Council voted to consider options for liquidated damages against Orr Wyatt Streetscapes, a company out of the Kansas City area that was involved with the water line project.
In additional action last year, the council approved an amended payout schedule on the project, and approved a change order from Orr Wyatt Streetscapes that decreased the amount owed by the city by about $11,000. The city also agreed to give the company an additional 17 days to complete its work around Conway Springs.
Since then, the city has continued to receive complaints from residents about the condition of their yards following the water line work around the community. And, the city itself has had problems with leaking water lines and equipment failures at the water treatment plant.
At their meeting last week, Mayor Jessica Gerlach asked council members if they wanted to pursue the issue with Orr Wyatt in court. Gerlach said she believes the city would potentially get more money by going to court.
Council member Daryle Smith suggested that residents get repairs done, and then work with the city to get reimbursement from Orr Wyatt.
The city is holding back a contingency amount on the project, and council members noted that Orr Wyatt has offered to settle that for $30,000. However, Smith noted that, “Attorney’s fees could eat up much of this.” Council members also suggested looking into Orr Wyatt’s bond amount for the project.
Earlier in the meeting last week, Mayor Gerlach noted that problems with the water lines and water plant are now past the warranty point, and need to be dealt with out of the contingency amount on the project.
“We need to be making repairs and charging the costs back to Orr Wyatt,” said Gerlach.
Council consensus was for the city to follow up with its legal counsel on options to proceed.
In other business at last week’s meeting, the council:
• Set a public hearing for 6 p.m. on Sept. 14 on the city’s 2021 budget. The city will consider approving the budget for next year after the hearing.
• Approved purchasing two new computers and monitors for the police department, not to exceed $3,500.
• Agreed to reuse the chlorine pump at the pool on the new pool project. The existing pump is fairly new.
• Discussed city wages and how to stay competitive. Council members agreed to look at possible changes after the first of the year.