Attorney: West Linn has no legal leverage to enforce LOT timeline
Project director says 'no silver bullets' to eliminate delay
In the wake of a recent announcement that the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership (LOT) water treatment plant project in West Linn would be delayed by almost a full year, the West Linn City Council and residents alike pressed LOT officials for answers Monday night at City Hall.
LOT Project Director Joel Komarek stood in front of a packed audience for more than 30 minutes during Mondays City Council meeting, answering pointed questions about how the project had fallen so far behind schedule.
Its well known now that our project is behind schedule at the plant, Komarek said to the council. We dont like it, you dont like it and I know your citizens dont like it, but here we are. Were doing what we can with our contractor to mitigate that delay.
The Slayden Construction Group (SCG) announced in December that a project to expand and replace the LOT water treatment plant in West Linn would be delayed by approximately 11 months. Though the majority of the $250 million project which is designed to upgrade and increase system capacity to deliver drinking water from the Clackamas River to Lake Oswego and Tigard will be completed by summer of 2016, final completion of the water plant is not expected until early 2017, according to LOT.
Since that original announcement, Komarek said that mitigation efforts including six day, 56 hour work weeks have cut the delay down to nine months.
Theres no silver bullet, no way to take a nine-month delay and shape it down to zero, Komarek said. But well do what we can do as best as we can.
That answer wasnt good enough for the council, and attorney Chris Crean was asked to brief the city on possible legal measures to enforce the projects original timeline.
Theres nothing in the permits or development code that requires a specific construction schedule, Crean said. Absent of a specific construction schedule, there is nothing to enforce.
Later during the community comment portion of the meeting, several residents expressed disappointment in the citys oversight process, claiming that the precise construction schedule should have been included in the permits.
On another legal front, West Linn Mayor John Kovash asked Komarek if LOT would be seeking any compensation from Slayden for the delay.
Id prefer not to respond that that, Komarek said.
City Councilor Jenni Tan followed up by asking if LOT would consider routing a portion of any potential compensation money back into the Robinwood neighborhood where construction is taking place.
Were already doing that as part of the conditions of approval (in the form of $10,000 to Robinwood Station), Komarek said. We will consider (additional funding).
Several councilors suggested increased work hours, but Komarek said that option or increasing the number of workers on site was more difficult than it sounded.
Its a very cramped site, he said. I dont know where you put more workers, I dont know where you put more machinery. ... There is a diminishing return at some point, the workers get tired and it starts being an unsafe work environment.
Additionally, Komarek said LOT would need the citys permission to push work hours later in the day, as those were part of the conditions of approval. The council said it would be amenable to increased work hours, and directed City Manager Chris Jordan to discuss that and other mitigation possibilities in a meeting later this week.
The project has been difficult, and being prolonged for this period is really difficult, Kovash said. Im saying this as someone who doesnt live next door. ... We need to have (LOTs) involvement, more than in the past.
I think the city manager can help in that process, and I will take the opportunity to talk to some of the other mayors.