New Canaan arbitration subcommittee unveils recommendations
After completing interviews with necessary town officials this past summer, the Lakeview Avenue Bridge Arbitration Subcommittee unveiled its draft report of recommendations Wednesday night.
The report, which is available on the town website, outlines several suggestions on how New Canaan can avoid the missteps that occurred earlier this year in relation to the arbitration settlement that sent more than $600,000 to Lourerio Contractors Inc.
In its final recommendation, the report highlights the controversy that surrounded the settlement.
"The incident of the Lakeview Avenue Bridge Arbitration incurred the disapproval of New Canaan residents at a level not seen in recent decades," the report states. "It was an example of what can happen when systems that had been historically adequate, could not keep pace with current circumstances."
The matter stems from a conflict between the town and Loureiro Contractors concerning the Lakeview Avenue Bridge construction in 2008. The town went into arbitration after withholding $250,000 from the contractors and claiming the firm was delaying the construction project. According to documents, Loureiro Contractors claim the work was delayed due to unforeseen complications with underground utilities, overhead wires and flooding. After more than a year of arbitration, Loureiro Contractors were awarded $650,000 by arbitrators.
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Town Council members were shocked to learn the arbitrator made the decision Feb. 25 and the award was paid in full March 27 without their knowledge. First Selectman Jeb Walker and Director of Public Works Michael Pastore took responsibility for what was described as a "breakdown in communication" after the payment was made.
Some of the most significant recommendations include establishing a Public Works commission, a review of the duties for the position of town treasurer, giving Town Council additional authority to approve all funds transferred to the capital and nonrecurring fund, having the Board of Selectmen look at checks over a certain dollar amount and establishing a temporary committee "charged with the responsibility of facilitating the implementation of the recommendations contained in this report, where feasible."
The subcommittee will take the edits, discussion and comments from the public, council members and committee members into consideration for a final report to be presented to the Town Council in the near future.
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