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Sunday, January 20, 2019



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Pump station under scrutiny

Pump station under scrutiny


 

After years of debate and changes, the Lafourche Parish government is inching along to complete renovations to the Cyprien Pump Station in Lockport.

But some Lafourche Parish Council members are questioning why a project that has been budgeted for three years still isn’t done.

“After time and re-engineering, and whatever else, here we are,” Councilman Bo Melvin said last week, later adding that the project has seen “gross mismanagement.”

The $3.5 million project has been discussed for decades and money from Road Sales Tax District A was first budgeted in 2015, under former Parish President Charlotte Randolph’s administration.

In May of that year, the Parish Council approved hiring T. Baker Smith engineers to design the improved station.

The project budget has increased slightly due to an abandoned pipeline running through the middle of the property, Parish Risk Manager Brent Abadie said at the Dec. 11th council meeting.

There have been a handful of amendments made to the project since the new administration and council took over in 2016.

Those include an engineering amendment to have T. Baker Smith work with the parish to refurbish the existing station, instead of building a new one. However, the parish later reversed that decision in mid-2017 with a second amendment, after accepting a bid from Xtreme Pump and Supply for $567,000 to purchase three pumps.

The parish considered doing the project in-house, saving more than $2 million on the overall cost. But Public Works Director James Barnes said last week that due to public bid laws, the parish couldn’t do that.

“There were several meetings before we got to this point,” Barnes said.

After the pumps were bought and delivered, they sat on the levee for a year, several council members said.

“This is something that should’ve been done at the beginning of this administration; this administration’s almost over,” Councilman Daniel Lorraine said. “The pumps sat there so long now they got to go back to where they come from to get checked out.”

It wasn’t until July of this year that the parish awarded a construction contract to Sealevel Construction Inc. for $2.3 million.

When the parish went to install the pumps, they were bigger than expected, and several of the parts weren’t working properly, even after being serviced by parish employees, Barnes said.

“Yes it’s definitely something wrong, but they are stepping up to plate. They are going to do the repairs and we are going to get the pumps back,” Barnes said.

Just recently, the council approved a budget amendment to add $25,000 to the project for removing the abandoned pipeline. However, Abadie said the parish expects to recoup that money from the pipeline’s owner, who had previously promised to remove the pipe on his own.

The project was expected to be completed “two hurricane seasons ago, and we still playing with it, and it looks like we’re going to play with it some more,” Lorraine said.

The council asked the administration for a detailed list of spending on the project and all change orders issued.

According to the construction contract with Sealevel, the project was scheduled to take 365 days.

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.