The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council directed town staff Tuesday to move ahead on resurfacing Bryan and Compton roads and Marcella Blvd., after some council members expressed consternation that Town Manager Mark Kutney had called for an engineer to inspect the roads first.
At a December meeting, the council voted 3-2 to approve resurfacing of the roads with open graded emulsified mix (OGEM) on a piggyback contract, despite objections by some council members that the project should be advertised for bids.
At the time, the council also discussed the possible replacement of a deteriorated culvert on Compton Road. All three roads had been surfaced years ago with county financing before the town incorporated. Kutney had recommended going through a bidding process rather than piggybacking the project.
Kutney said that on Dec. 23, he joined town engineers Randy Wertepny and Maziar Keshavarz of Keshavarz & Associates and Public Works Director Frank Schiola to inspect the three roads. Councilman Tom Goltzené, who was driving by, also took part in the inspection.
Keshavarz provided a four-page report about the condition of the roads. “I believe it’s an excellent report, not only for its brevity,” Kutney said. “It’s very succinct, yet they get right to the heart of the matter as it relates to the issues relative to the culvert, the roadways and the OGEM.”
Vice Mayor Ron Jarriel questioned why Kutney had called in the engineers when he did not recall the council directing him to do so, pointing out that a majority of the council — he and councilmen Jim Rockett and Ryan Liang — had voted for the piggyback contract because of reduced cost, speed and the necessity to resurface the roads.
Jarriel pointed out that Jeff King of North Florida Emulsions, who will be doing the project when the contract is drawn up, had said that no engineer would be required for resurfacing, only for culvert repair or replacement.
“North Florida Emulsions gave every council member a packet,” Jarriel said. “They serve all of Florida. That packet was almost a half-inch thick of different towns, different counties and they’re coming into Palm Beach County now. They’re coming in strong because people know that it’s economical and it serves the purpose. We all knew that they had a good reputation.”
Jarriel told Kutney that none of his recommendations mentioned calling in an engineer to survey the roads.
“We have our own designs that tell us how that culvert should be installed and what size that we put in,” Jarriel said. “Long story short is this council did not direct you to survey these three roads and inspect this culvert.”
Kutney agreed that the council did not direct him to involve the engineers, but he said that Jarriel had indicated they could get George Perez, a local contractor experienced in culvert installation, to replace the culverts.
“At that point, I indicated that was probably not appropriate,” he said. “What we needed to do was get three quotes. I indicated to the council that I was going to have the engineers come out and look at the culvert. None of you said, ‘Don’t do that.’ I took that as my approval to go ahead and do it, and while they were out there, I had them go ahead and look at the other road surfaces. I like Mr. King, he’s a great guy, but I disagree with him when he makes a comment to you that you don’t need engineering. I think if you look at that report, you’re going to see that, yes, we do need engineering to take a review of this.”
Wertepny said the Compton Road culvert is in bad condition at the F Road outfall. “The most apparent cause is through maintenance activity,” he said. “Trying to maintain the canal or the ditch does cause damage.”
Wertepny pointed out that the culvert is not exposed at all on the ditch side, pointing to a detail provided by the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District. “This is a great detail and will provide almost all the specifications you would need for a normal situation,” he said. “However, keep in mind this protects the road surface for a non-paved, non-OGEM surface road, and it protects the canal side. There is no protection for the residents’ side, which is the sole purpose for why you replace the culvert.”
Wertepny said his firm’s report included details that would protect the culvert from future damage, including a mitered end section on the ditch side, and specifications for the OGEM surfacing.
“While we were present at the site, we drove around and looked at Compton Road, Bryan Road and Marcella, and on those three roads, there was one common theme in areas of poor drainage — where the road was deteriorating the most,” he said, explaining that the roads need to be graded and crowned so they will drain properly before resurfacing can take place.
Goltzené and Jarriel got into an extended debate over whether an engineer was needed or not, until Mayor Dave Browning suggested they move on.
“We’ve got a manager who hired an engineer, which we approved a contract for, obviously because we do need him,” Browning said. “I was under the assumption that we were going to have an engineer look at these roads only because I don’t want to spend the money to pave a road, and then have it fall apart a year later. I don’t want to look at the nickels and dimes and then lose out big time. I want the roads done, but at the same time we’ve got to make sure we don’t make mistakes while we’re doing them.”
Kutney said the management company is obligated to see that the procurement process is done properly and that the town is spending its money wisely.
“It’s very clear that if we just went and slapped OGEM down, that’s not the way to go considering the issues that are out there,” he said. “They’ve identified a number of problems on all three roadways. This council agrees you want to go ahead and get the work done for the residents, but we want to do it the right way. To sit here and listen that I shouldn’t have brought a professional out there to do what is necessary, I’m sorry, I have a problem with that.”
Jarriel said the council had asked for three bids on the culvert construction and that the LGWCD, which issues the permit, has specifications for installing culverts. He said he believed the town engineer’s obligation was simply to do a final inspection after the work is done.
Kutney also pointed out that in order to get bids for the culvert, there was also a lot of vegetation on the residents’ side that had to be removed in order to restore proper drainage.
Goltzené said flooding that residents have complained about is at least partially due to clogged private culverts and ditches obstructed by vegetation. “It’s more than just replacing the culvert,” he said. “It’s removing all the vegetation, it’s digging out under some of these driveways and replacing some of those culverts.”
Goltzené added that the town doesn’t have a policy for road and culvert maintenance. “We’re flying by the seat of our pants, and it’s really not working,” he said.
Rockett said the council had directed staff to get three bids to replace three culverts, which had not been done. “We still need to have that done,” Rockett said. “We have specs to follow. Three members voted to do it, who I think still stand by that vote, so let’s get it done.”