Groves Council Approves Road Improvement Change Orders

The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council approved several design changes Tuesday, June 2 for road projects on B Road and D Road, but not before sparking a discussion by council members on change orders to contracted projects.

The change orders requested by Public Works Director Larry Peters were for $9,166.67 to WBI Contracting & Service for drainage alterations on D Road around Big Dog Ranch Rescue; $3,550 for paving a driveway apron at Altman Farms; and $9,400 for sod replacement and sod protectors on B Road.

Town Manager Jamie Titcomb said the purchase orders did not exceed his ability to approve them without council authorization, but because they involved some design changes, council members might have some questions.

Peters said the Big Dog Ranch project involved the redesign of three catch basins so as to not remove existing palm trees along D Road and extend the drainage structure beyond the trees into a swale.

“We have an additional 30 feet of right of way there,” he said, explaining that having the additional right of way would enable the installation of a pipe to the catch basin, preclude cutting the trees and putting the catch basin alongside the road.

He added that Big Dog Ranch had installed a drainage structure in accordance with its first permit, but the structure sticks up out of the ground several feet.

“That drainage structure was put in a few years ago, and the end of the structure out in the canal is deteriorated,” Peters said. “We need to repair it at the canal end, and we need to cut that structure that’s sticking two-and-a-half feet out of the ground, so the water can flow and filter prior to going into the catch basin.”

Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia said she was not happy with change orders coming in when the town was close to spending all the money it has allocated for road improvements.

“You spent $133,000 on 13 roads that basically were side roads that went into main roads that were OGEM [open-graded emulsified mix] and deplorable,” Maniglia said. “I want to stop spending… Every single drainage project has a change order.”

Titcomb said the contract is configured to allow for change orders based on site-specific criteria.

“The fact of bringing change orders back to you is part of the built-in process,” he said, adding that the change orders are encumbered in the budget. “We’re about exactly where we should be on an annualized budget cycle.”

Councilman Robert Shorr said he supported the change orders.

“Jamie spelled it out perfectly,” Shorr said. “We’re right on the money. We’re right where we planned to be. For this change order to extend the swale and save some trees for a couple thousand dollars, I think it’s a good deal. That manhole, essentially what we’re getting when they cut that manhole down and convert it to a catch basin, we’re getting a $15,000 catch basin.”

Councilwoman Laura Danowski and Vice Mayor Marge Herzog said they had visited the site and talked to the contractor, and the proposal made sense to them.

Shorr made a motion to approve the changes for Big Dog Ranch, which carried 4-1 with Maniglia opposed.

Regarding the Altman Farms change order, Peters said the town engineer had recommended asphalting the apron of the driveway to allow drainage to cross the driveway without deteriorating it, and the property owner was paying for the changes.

Herzog made a motion to accept the change order, which carried 5-0.

The B Road sod protectors were being put forward to preserve sod that had been installed and was being destroyed by vehicles driving on them.

“We installed multiple drainage structures up B Road, and we put in a 10-foot swale with sod, and without any protection, when drivers are going up B Road and it’s very dusty, it’s better to drive on the grass, so they just continue to cut over into the grass,” Peters said. “They’ve taken five feet of the swale away. We’re requesting that we put posts in just as we have at Collecting Canal and E [Road] to prevent destruction of the swale.”

Shorr made a motion to approve the change order, which carried 3-2 with Maniglia and Herzog opposed.