|When the main water line under the street is too shallow, the lateral lines that connect the main to the house will also be too shallow as these lines are on 72nd St.
|For one reason or another Mayor Dyster chose to hide the results of an engineering report that explained the problem at 72nd St during the spring summer fall of 2014 and the winter of 2015.
|During the summer he was busy hosting taxpayer funded Hard Rock Concerts for the people to enjoy.
The problem of frozen water lines on the 500 block of 72nd St is not complicated. The solution is a new main water line and water service hooks ups to individual houses below the freeze line.
The timeline below shows that the problem began from the time the road was reconstructed in 2010 and the solution was known and verified in April 2014, after the first year of water lines freezing, through a report made by the city's outside engineering consultant, Clark Patterson Lee. Their report pinpointed the problem 10 months before the second freezing of pipes on 72nd St.
For some reason Mayor Paul Dyster withheld the report.
The Dyster administration performed a $2.6 million full depth road reconstruction of 72nd St. from Niagara Falls Blvd. to Buffalo Ave. The engineering plans called for half the street to get new water lines and the other half to keep the old water lines installed originally when the street was new in 1931.
It was a cost cutting measure.
On 72nd St., from Buffalo Ave. to Stephenson Ave. (the 100 to 300 blocks), the new water main would be installed five feet below the surface in order to be below the freeze line.
On 72nd, from Stephenson Ave. to Niagara Falls Blvd. (400 to 600 blocks) the old water line would remain and the contractor would dig up the street around it and back fill around the water line with gravel then rebuild the road.
When the contractor, Paul Marinaccio, President of Accadia Site Contracting, began the job, he realized that with changes of elevation in the street and by changing the cover around the 78 year-old water line - from packed soil to gravel, the old water lines which were not deep enough would freeze during cold winters.
They were between 18 inches to three feet below the new surface of the road in some locations.
Marinaccio told the city they should replace the water line.
He said he could do that work while the street was opened for around $300,000.
The Dyster administration asked the Water Board to pay this but the Water Board refused.
Dyster, who was then investing casino cash to hire a consultant from the National Development Council ($72,000) a grant for the Niagara River Greenway for Wild Ones ($25,000) change orders for the Ice Pavilion ($189,000) the train station engineering fees ($394,000) the ZOOM Project ($83,704) and Hard Rock Concerts ($179,500) simply could not afford to invest $300,000 at that time to replace a water line in this poor and struggling city. The Dyster administration instructed the contractor to do the job as designed.
Four winters pass and there is no freezing.
Unusually cold weather causes about dozen water lines on the 500 block of 72nd St. to freeze.
Feb 3, 2014 The Buffalo News
Dyster: "There were about 'six theories' about what may have happened and it would be premature to discuss the possibilities."
The News reported: "Dyster said the city will conduct an investigation to see what caused this cluster of homes to be more susceptible to low temperatures."
True to his word, Dyster hired his outside consulting engineer, Clark Patterson Lee to make a study of why the pipes froze.
Feb 3, 2014:
Time Warner Cable News reports.
Dyster: "Having water lines freeze during a cold winter is not at all an unusual situation,"
Feb 11 2014
Niagara Falls Reporter: Quoting Anthony Mallone, the Project Engineer for Accadia, who did the 72nd St Rd. reconstruction: "You need to redo the water line, re-cut the road… Install a new water line, excavate it down to a depth…. below the freeze line."
The Reporter, whose publisher (this writer) has built roads, seconded Mallone: "The main water line under the road will have to have to be replaced.
April 9, 2014
Clark Patterson Lee hands in a four page report to city hall on the frozen water line problem. It concluded: Water lines too shallow after the road was reconstructed in 2010. The report read in part, "We reviewed plans dated 2010 and spoke with members of the Engineering Department to obtain information regarding this full depth roadway reconstruction project.
"We discovered that the frozen services on 72nd Street were located in areas where the water facilities are above normal recommended installation depths within recently reconstructed areas. In addition we were told that the Engineering Department coordinated with the Niagara Falls Water Board, who was aware of the water main depths in this area; In particular, we learned that the Niagara Falls Water Board opted against the Engineering Department's recommendation to replace the existing water facilities at recommended depths where road reconstruction would occur between Stephenson Avenue and Niagara Falls Boulevard (400 to 600 blocks). …. "We do see evidence of a partial systemic failure likely resulting from inadequate cover over the water main at the locations on 72nd …" Clark Patterson Lee identified the problem --"inadequate cover." They also made a pitch for extra work.
The report continues: "We intend to continue our assessment upon receipt of additional information during our regular weekly support visits unless you feel the need to expedite our research and utilize our on-call services phase which would allow additional time for us to finalize the study. "Please direct us on the priority of this issue…."
The report was signed by Daniel D, Duprey, P.E Executive Vice President and Christopher Sichak, P.E, Senior Associate of Clark Patterson Lee.
After receiving the report Dyster did not share it with the one group of people most entitled to know - the affected residents, or with the council or the Water Board. The offer of Clark Patterson Lee to do additional work if it was a priority to determine more precisely the problem was declined by Dyster.
Warm weather came and everyone - including Dyster - forgot about the frozen water lines except, of course, the residents.
When the 72nd St. residents showed up at a Water Board meeting, Chairman Ted Janese told them: "The city of Niagara Falls has commissioned an engineering report for which we hope to learn the findings of in the near future."
This was odd.
Dyster had the Clark Patterson Lee report since April 2014 and he didn't share it with the water board.
What was he thinking?
Dec 10, 2014,
WGRZ reports: "Residents are still waiting for the release of an engineering consultant's study ordered by the city."
Jan, 6, 2015,
WKBW reports, "Eyewitness News asked to see that (Clark Patterson Lee) report a full nine months (after he received it) but the mayor declined to share it with us, saying he wanted to give the water board a heads up first."
Dyster: "What the consultant engineers came back and told us was that there was no single factor that you can say was responsible for the frozen water services aside from the fact that we had an extended period of record cold."
Although water lines had not frozen yet, residents of 72nd St. were getting increasingly nervous that their water lines might freeze again this year.
Jan 7 2015 WGRZ
Dyster: "(Speaking of the Clark Patterson Lee report) There was no single cause that was found where you could say...A-Ha...here's something that was done wrong. What the consultant engineers came back and told us was that there was no single factor that you can say was responsible for the frozen water services aside from the fact that we had an extended period of record cold."
After a period of record cold, the water lines on 72nd St froze again.
Feb 22 2015:
WGRZ Dyster: "We need to dig under the street, find out what's happening and make certain that we do the right thing by these people."
Feb 22 2015
Time Warner Dyster said the Clark Patterson Lee report "ruled out the placement of the waterline (as the problem)."
Feb 24 2015
WIVB Dyster: The Clark Patterson Lee report could not "pinpoint" the problem but, "We're willing to lead the charge in terms of fixing whatever this problem is, once we're able to determine what's happening." Dyster: "It seems as though there's some kind of pattern of problems with these lines, even if we have to dig some holes in the street to figure out what's happening, I think when the weather allows that's what's going to be done."
Feb 24 2015
WIVB "Dyster says he is aware of homeowners' frustrations. But he said previous studies conducted on 72nd Street could not pinpoint the problem."
Feb. 26 Buffalo News
Dyster: "The city spent the money for the (Clark Patterson Lee) engineering review last year because it was looking for something specific to act on, but no specific project emerged at the time….. We didn't know it was going to freeze up again this year…. We're reaching the conclusion that there's some type of systemic issue on 72nd Street….. I think we're at the point where we feel we've got to put a significant amount of money into finding out what might be done."
Surprisingly, since Dyster said on January 6 that the reason he couldn't give WKBW a copy of the Clark Patterson Lee report is that he wanted to give the Water Board a "heads up" first, on February 26 - one month and 20 days later, he still hadn't given that heads up to the Water Board.
Buffalo News: "Water Board officials said they first saw a copy (of the Clark Patterson Lee report) Thursday (Feb 26) when provided one by a News reporter."
March 5: Family Life
Dyster: "When the street was being repaved… our infrastructure on average is old, and in many cases, we don't have probably a very good idea of what it is that's buried under our streets."
WGRZ Dyster says he is now going to hire outside engineers (Clark Patterson Lee) to build a digital database that would catalog the depths of water lines across the city and attempt to identify "vulnerable neighborhoods" before the onset of severe weather. Dyster: "We're hoping these past two winters were an anomaly, but what if they weren't?... I would say that as a city government we have the responsibility, at the least, to investigate what would be the impact if that were to happen."
72nd St water lines are still frozen.
It is now spring and the water lines are not frozen.
Dyster has hired Clark Patterson Lee to do an expensive citywide study of the depths of all water lines.
He has hired consultants to further investigate 72nd St and make more studies. It remains to be seen how much these reports will cost and whether these reports will be shared with the public and if they will recommend what everyone - even the consultants know conclusively - that the water line on 72nd St. from Stephenson to Niagara Falls Blvd needs to be replaced.
Paul Marinaccio from Accadia told the Reporter that the probable cost to replace the water line now is going to be about $500,000 since the street and the sidewalks will have to be torn up.
Sooner or later, maybe when there is a new mayor in office, the water line will have to be replaced. The only question is, will Dyster spend more in outside consulting fees between now and then than it will cost to simply do the right thing and replace the water lines?