Boone Town Manager Addresses 2013 Letter From Former Attorney To W.K. Dickson Exec

Published Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm

By Jesse Wood

At a recent Boone Town Council meeting, Frank Packard and Deborah Greene, members of the New River Advocates, once again implored the town to halt its water intake project along the South Fork of the New River.

This time they referenced a Feb. 19, 2013 letter from former Town Attorney Sam Furgiuele to an executive with the engineering firm W.K. Dickson, which was hired by the town for the water intake project.

In the letter, which was unearthed in a public records request by the Todd-based nonprofit opposing the project, Furgiuele notes a litany of errors on the part of W.K. Dickson.

“The Town has incurred substantial, additional, and what should have been unnecessary costs in the form of right-of-way agent’s fees, appraisal fees, attorney’s fees, surveying costs and staff expenses from what we see as errors on the part of W.K. Dickson,” Furgiuele wrote.

“Some of W.K. Dickson’s work has actually set the project back, such as recommending a CLOMR when we are now told that none was needed, designing the course of the intake route along Brownwood Road without first pursuing expected, needed and promised research, and at times taking actions without appreciating the potential risks to the project which would result from a lack of precision.”

The seven-page letter was drafted in order to explain problems the town has with the “unsatisfactory” work to W.K. Dickson Executive Vice President David Pond after the engineering firm asked for additional payments on top of the $1.1 million the firm had received as of the date of the 2013 letter.

During last Thursday’s Boone Town Council meeting, Packard read from the letter during the public comment portion of the meeting and made comments.

‘What future errors are yet to be uncovered and at what cost to the town?” Packard asked at the meeting.

In 2008, 75 percent of town voters approved a $25-million bond referendum for a new intake system. Following the referendum the Boone Town Council accepted the USDA loan to finance the project. The Watauga Democrat recently reported that costs associated with the project to date have increased to $31.4 million.

Town Manager John Ward, who has said that the water intake project would go to bid before winter, commented on the referenced letter during his update to the council later in the meeting.

“The letter indicating some issues identified is true. Those issues have been identified. Corrections have been made and corrections have resulted in the Army Corp of Engeineers and the N.C. Department of Natural Resources approving those corrections as being sound and valid as we move forward with the water project. That letter has already been addressed,” Ward updated the council. “Those issues have already been addressed and those engineers who have made a career of working in review of that have approved those things. That’s why permits have been issued to move forward with the project.”

Attached are Furgiuele’s letter and an invoice for nearly $250,000 from Pond that preceded the letter.

https://www.hcpress.com/img/Sam-Furgiuele-Letter-2_19_13.pdf

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