Sewage Authority Hedges on Question of Liability

Members of the Ford City Borough Municipal Sewage Disposal Authority listen to business owner Tom Young discuss damages he has incurred because of the authority’s contractor.

A local businessman has been once again pushed aside by Ford City officials who are trying to limit their liability.

Tom Young, owner of Young’s Interiors, has a problem that he has explained to Ford City Borough Council last Monday night and to the Ford City Borough Municipal Sewage Disposal Authority (FCBMSDA) last night.

The problem occurred when heavy equipment was brought into the alley adjacent to Young’s 5th Avenue store to fix a sewer line repair.

“The scope of the project became so great that it greatly affected our business with loss of foot traffic. But I am more concerned about the physical remnants outside our building right now,” Young explained last night.

                                          Tom Young

“A couple of years ago, the alleys were in real bad shape. At that time the Borough made the decision to repave those alleys which was much needed. However, the contractor at that time sloped the alley towards our building. The New Life Center’s roof drains poured water that laid and puddled right next to our building.”

Young said his building has no basement for the water to drain into. He said he was primarily concerned at that time over the freeze/thaw combination on the foundation of his building that was occurring.

“Last year, my wife and I made the decision to jackhammer a number of those pads out and replace with a slope away from our building to keep the water away at a cost of $3,400.”

However, all of Young’s efforts in protecting his building were destroyed several weeks ago.

According to FCBMSDA Engineer Daniel B. Slagle, a 12-inch sewer line collapsed in the unnamed alley that runs from 4th Avenue to 5th Avenue. The collapsed line was backing up sewage into homes and businesses and immediate action was necessary. FCBMDSA hired Holbein Construction from Sarver to dig up the line and fix the sewer line that was approximately 12 feet below the surface.

“Holbein brought in some major heavy equipment that was concentrated in a small area,” Young said. “That pad that we poured was badly damaged along with concrete pads along our building. Those have all caved in close to the alley. We have a lot of damage. I went to the Borough meeting and they suggested I come to talk to you all. I want to know what will be done. Is Holbein responsible for this? Is this something you guys contact Holbein and tell them they have to come back and repair this? What is my course of action?”

FCBMSDA President John Thompson made an appointment this morning to meet with Young. However, after Young’s comments, Thompson stopped all questions from the Kittanning Paper and would not permit the engineer or solicitor to further clarify the events. Thompson denied any knowledge of any problem at the location. That seems unlikely since the event was somewhat catastrophic, spanning the entire block.

Details of what happened next depends on with whom you speak. When the trench was restored, it appears that the FCBMSDA did not direct Holbein to provide supports for a main water line that was located four feet above the sewage line. Therefore, when Holbein heavy equipment began to compact the soil after filling in the ditch, the water line was broken, causing massive flooding to the area.

Thompson cleared the room by stating the directors were going into executive session, although he did not properly identify the reason. Because identification was not given, the rules of the Sunshine Law were allegedly not properly followed.

Thompson said he would submit a news release when the FCBMSDA had something to say about the situation rather than being questioned.