Contractor disputes surveyor challenger’s claims
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent October 17, 2012 3:02PM
Updated: November 19, 2012 3:14PM
CROWN POINT — Officials say politics, not performance, are behind claims of improper work, cronyism and criminal complicity raised by Lake County surveyor candidate Eric Krieg.
Krieg came before the Lake County Drainage Advisory Board Wednesday again leveling charges that work on the Spring Street Ditch and Brown Levee by contractor R.A. Oros Inc. of Munster was not done properly yet the contractor has received full payment. Krieg claims Surveyor George Van Til is aware of the problems and is criminally negligent in overlooking them.
This time, however, Emil Poppa, owner of R.A. Oros was on hand to speak out against the claims leveled against the surveyor and his company.
“Things have escalated to a point it’s getting ridiculous,” Poppa said, adding he has been following the claims in newspaper reports and has declined to speak about it because in his opinion the matter is political.
He said while there may be some discrepancies in how the work was completed versus the original engineering plan, that is due to efforts to accommodate residents who border the project and the Lake County Park Department. Any variation was approved through the surveyor’s office after discussion and negotiation, he said.
Thomas Burke from Christopher B. Burke Ltd., engineer for the north watershed, said it is not uncommon for the scope of work to change slightly during a project depending on how the project impacts surrounding property owners. He said in his opinion Poppa and his company went above and beyond to accommodate residents and the county Park Department on work on Spring Street Ditch, going so far as to remove some of the excavated sediment from the site at the request of one homeowner. The accommodations may have slowed the project down, but resulted in a finished project.
Michael Gangstad, from Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates Inc., who is project engineer for the Brown Levee, said work was completed to county satisfaction there as well.
The Lake County Board of Commissioners in a meeting later Wednesday released a performance bond lien for R.A. Oros on the Brown Levee because the job was completed.
Commissioner Gerry Scheub said election season is election season and the drainage advisory board has heard all it is going to on the matter. He said parties with any further complaints need to put those in writing so they can be reviewed by staff.
“I think we are to a point where we have heard everything everybody has to say,” Scheub said.