Marthasville withholds final Rusche Park payment until ‘shoddy’ work fixed

EROSION CONTROL — This image, provided as part of a Cochran Engineering report to the city of Marthasville, documents a hillside at the Rusche Park basin where more erosion control is needed. City of Marthasville photo.
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

The Marthasville Board of Aldermen is withholding the final $5,000 of money owed to contractor KJU Inc. until the company corrects issues with its work at Rusche Park.

KJU was granted a $60,000 contract last November to build a half-acre lake and retention basin in the park to control water runoff and reduce flooding in the area. But after completing the project this spring, city officials say the company left issues that will take some effort to correct. The problems were discussed during the April 21 Marthasville Board of Aldermen meeting.

The list of issues includes street pavement cracked by construction equipment, soil around the basin that is unstable and eroding, and a noticeably crooked drainage pipe, among others.

Cochran Engineering, the city’s engineering firm for the project, estimates the cost of pavement repair and soil restoration is about $5,000. Cochran recommended withholding that amount from the final bill payment.

The issue of cracked pavement near the work site has already been acknowledged by the contractor and will be addressed, Mayor David Lange said. 

Longer term, a bigger potential issue is erosion on the inside of the basin causing sediment to flow into the new lake. If too much soil infiltrates, the lake bottom will fill in and the basin won’t be able to do its job of holding back excess rainwater, city officials said. The city is calling on KJU to re-grade part of the slope, place rock or soil where erosion is already occurring, then re-seed and straw the basin to establish stabilizing vegetation.

Alderman Nick Lange also pointed out that KJU never installed erosion control barriers while the site was being constructed, which he believes should be counted against what the contractor is owed.

The other issue city leaders are lamenting is a notably crooked emergency drainage pipe, a problem that might not have an adequate fix.

“The dam is already covered up and compacted over the top of that pipe. They can’t just lift it back up and push stuff underneath (to level it) without causing issues of integrity to the dam,” said engineer William Johanning with Cochran Engineering. He said the emergency overflow drainage system will still function as intended, even if it is aesthetically displeasing. 

Aldermen and the mayor debated whether to ask KJU to try to reset the pipe anyway, or simply alter part of the pipe to make it appear more level.

“No one’s being held accountable for shoddy work,” commented Alderman Dan Grafrath, acknowledging that there’s no way to correct the issue without draining the basin and digging out the dam. “It’s just bad for the taxpayers, paying for shoddy work.”

Alderman Lange said the contractor deviated several times from the materials and work outlined in the project documents, with some of those changes resulting in a discount for the city. Lange said the overall work is adequate, but that the remaining issues need to be addressed.

“The city’s got to realize that we accepted a contractor to do work, and they didn’t necessarily meet all the plans and specifications,” Lange said. “We’ve got to take that into consideration for reconciling the final bill, or consideration of awarding future work or not.”

Aldermen voted 4-0 to pay all of KJU’s remaining bill except the $5,000 withheld. The topic is likely to be revisited at the board’s next meeting on May 19.


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