3-Month Industrial Park Project Near Brymer Creek Stalled After 16 Months; Bradley Finance Chairman Calls It "A Travesty"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cleveland city officials acknowledged Tuesday that an industrial park project near Brymer Creek that was suppose to take three months is in its 16th month and is currently shut down awaiting word from state regulators.

Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel and her staff told members of the Bradley County Commission's finance committee that the cost on the project that was estimated at $4 million has risen to $4.7 million.

Ed Elkins, chairman of the finance panel, said he toured the site earlier in the day. He said, "If you want to really see the problem, go out there and it will hit you in the eye. Somebody didn't do their job. The word that comes to mind is a travesty."

He added, "As a representative of District 1, I feel like I let the people down. They didn't want this project. I feel badly for the people down there."

Commissioner Elkins said the county had "relied on the city" to oversee the project.

Residents near Brymer Creek said runoff from the project at Harriman Road has muddied the formerly clear stream.

Ms. Casteel said she is still hopeful that the industrial project on the north side of I-75 will come in under budget and money from that site can be shifted to cover the extra cost on the south side. She said the north site is not so large "and doesn't have a huge hill."

Ms. Casteel acknowledged that a $347,000 change order to lower the grade from eight percent to six percent so the road would not be so steep was not voted on by the Cleveland City Council. She said it was mentioned to council members several times.

Officials said paying a private firm to monitor the construction project as required by the state since TDOT is involved has cost close to half a million dollars. Each day the inspector comes out is another $1,100, it was stated. The inspector comes two days a week even when no work is underway, officials said. 

The commissioners were told that "not a lot of work" has been done at the site since the first of July as officials wait for requirements from TDEC on fixing ditches on either side of a road on a hill at the site.

Commissioners were told the engineer on the project said the ditch could be handled with rip rap, but a much more expensive fix is expected to be required - costing up to $180,000. Long sections of rock have been encountered in the ditches.

Commissioner Adam Lowe asked if contractor Steve Williams should share in the blame for problems at the site, and city stormwater official Jonathan Jobe said the firm was partly at fault.

Mr. Jobe said there had been "a perfect storm of problems" at the south side, including a number of heavy rains. 

About $600,000 worth of work is yet to be done at the south site, it was stated.    

Officials said it was estimated that 427 rock check dams would be needed on the south site, and 566 have already been put in.

County Mayor Gary Davis said the county wants to hold off on any further work on the north side for the time being because the funds are not there to cover it.

The county is being asked to cover $196,158.58 of the south site cost overrun. Commissioners were told that hopefully that amount should be recouped in savings on the north site.


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