Fuda’s concerns persist over Howland Project

WARREN — Trumbull County Commissioner Frank Fuda is recommending a meeting be scheduled with Sanitary Engineer Randy Smith to discuss the $21 million Mosquito Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant capital improvement project.

The project, located in Howland, was awarded in March to a combined bid from MS consultants and CT consultants.

The two top ranking companies for the project, Burgess and Niple of Painesville and AECOM of Akron, each were put in an unfair position, according to Fuda.

Fuda said he was upset after reading an Oct. 9 Tribune Chronicle article in which Smith said he was the area expert on sanitary engineering issues.

“I disagree with that statement,” Fuda said. “The real experts are the team of individuals who were involved in the original evaluations of the design engineering firms who expressed an interest in the Mosquito Creek project.”

Fuda said he sent Commissioners Mauro Cantalamessa and Dan Polivka a timeline of the Mosquito Creek Wastewater project two weeks ago.

He expected to discuss the issue during a meeting on Tuesday, but Polivka did not attend. Polivka once again was absent Wednesday.

While Fuda agrees that Smith has been a good engineer for the county’s road and other projects, the commissioner on Wednesday described him as a part-time sanitary engineer that puts only a few hours a day into that job.

Fuda said commissioners have worked closely with employees in the sanitary engineer’s office in the past and have, over the years, successfully completed $65 million worth of projects.

“I do not see the teamwork,” Fuda said.

Fuda identified the expert evaluators as being Gary Shaffer of the highway engineer’s office, and Scott Verner, Bill Durst and Art Bain, all from the sanitary engineer’s office. Fuda said these individuals have special licenses and the required educational backgrounds to make an informed decision on which firms were best for the Mosquito Creek project.

“They unanimously agreed on Burgess and Niple as the firm earning the most points,” Fuda said.

The commissioner said there appears to have been a two-tiered approach for project evaluations and  some partiality shown in order to conclude that MS Consultant and CT Consultants were considered to be a better fit.

Fuda is concerned the project may have to be rebid.

Steve Papalas, an administrative assistant in Smith’s office, questioned whether Fuda had spoken to Smith about his concerns, to which Fuda replied that he had.

Fuda questioned whether Smith previously provided commissioners all of the pertinent information they needed before the contract for the work was awarded.

“I was also informed by our Assistant Sanitary Engineer, Scott Verner, that he was not allowed to speak to anyone, including the commissioners, about the Mosquito Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant project.

Smith, who was not at the meeting, said he spoke to Fuda about two weeks ago and would be willing to speak to the commissioners at any time.

“I am in my office five days a week,”Smith said. “They are welcome to call.”