A midday agreement reached between Harford County and Havre de Grace Monday will ensure a portion of the city’s downtown parking lot will remain open to the public during the 18-month expansion of the adjacent water treatment.
While County Executive David Craig and Mayor Wayne Dougherty celebrated the agreement Monday with a joint press release, it seems Havre de Grace is conceding the most in what appears to be a lop-sided truce.
The crux of the settlement is that Havre de Grace will lift its stop work order on the project and allow work to proceed in exchange for the county’s help re-establishing a lane through the lot with some diagonal parking spaces.
But the city seems to be giving up a lot: Havre de Grace will not only lift the stop work order and sign off on all approvals and permits for the project, but must also pay for the costs of adding new parking, pay for the cost of the first two weeks worth of work delays, and make about half of nearby David Craig Park available for off-site storage and staging for the project. Oh and the city must also indemnify the county and hold it harmless for any damage caused by using the through-lane during the construction project.
The county’s major contributions are that it will split the cost of re-establishing the lane and will split the cost of damage delays with the after the first two weeks.
Here’s the official, joint press release. Please read and digest it for yourself:
Havre de Grace and Harford County Governments Arrive at Agreement
Terms are Reached for Shared Water Treatment Plant Solids Handling Project to Continue
Bel Air, Maryland –
Since the 1980’s, Harford County Government and the City of Havre de Grace have operated separate water treatment plants adjacent to each other along St. John’s Street in Havre de Grace.
In 2003 discussions began as to how best to update the two plants to meet environmental standards required by the Maryland Department of the Environment. The City and County have jointly explored several options including a pumping station to send the solids extracted during the water treatment process to the Waste Water Treatment facility at another location in the City. Based on capacity and cost concerns it was agreed by City and County that a WTP solids handling facility would be located behind the water treatment plant.
The current joint project between the City of Havre de Grace and Harford County will cost $7.7 million and will take approximately eighteen months to complete. The City is providing 40% of the construction funding for the project and the County is providing 60%.
After submitting all plans to the City and MDE,the project began shortly after the first of February. Project Engineers had submitted plans and designs that included closing the public parking and the public access lanes located behind the water treatment plant between Warren and Franklin Streets. When temporary fences were erected around the construction area several restaurants and retail shops in the downtown area voiced concerns that the lack of public parking would be extremely adverse to their bottom line.
Responding positively to the concerns brought forward by the business community and concern with public safety issues, Mayor Wayne Dougherty issued a stop-work-order at the March 3, 2008 Havre de Grace City Council meeting.
As a pre-emptive measure to ensure that the project would be allowed to continue, Harford County Attorneys’ filed a request for an injunction to rescind the City’s stop-work-order in Harford County Circuit Court on March 4, 2008. Since that time, Paul W. Ishak, attorney for the City of Havre de Grace, and Nancy L. Giorno, Deputy County Attorney, and Margaret K. Hartka, County DPW attorney have negotiated in good faith, and the parties have come to a joint settlement.
The details of the settlement are as follows:
City to lift Stop Work Order and County to dismiss its Complaint for injunctive relief
County and City to split the cost of re-establishing a 12 foot wide thru-lane 50/50 including any revisions to engineering drawings ($172,000 + engineering revisions if necessary)
City to pay 100% of cost of preserving not less than 8 diagonal parking spaces adjacent to the Thru-Lane ($13,000)
City to pay 100% of delay damages for the first fifteen days of delay @ $500 per day
City and County to split delay damages 50/50 from day 16 onward at $500 per day until day 30 and at $3,000 per day thereafter
City shall issue all approvals and permits required for the revised Project
City shall maintain the Thru-Lane and adjacent parking
City shall make slightly less than half of the parking area at the David Craig Park available for off-site storage, staging and parking by the contractor
City shall indemnify the County for any damages resulting from the use of the Thru-Lane or the adjacent parking unless caused by the negligence of the contractor
Mayor Wayne Dougherty and County Executive David Craig were informed that a settlement had been reached by lunchtime on Monday, March 10.
“I am delighted that the City and the County were able to reach an agreement that maintains public safety and considered the concerns of the business community while allowing the project to move forward. ,” the Mayor said.
Craig emphasized that Havre de Grace City residents were Harford County residents, as well. “I was always working towards mitigating any negative effects to the business community with the understanding that this is an important project that allows for the continued delivery of a clean and adequate water source for city and county residents alike.”
Dougherty announced the stop work order last week during a Havre de Grace City Council meeting when a group of concerned downtown business owners came forward to publicly lodge their complaints.
A bitter battle soon ensued over who was to blame for allowing the multimillion-dollar water treatment plant expansion project, and its accompanying impacts, to slip by with nary a heads-up for unsuspecting downtown business owners.
So is Monday’s agreement the compromise Havre de Grace and its downtown business community were hoping for or is this just the best deal the city’s lawyers could shake out of the county?
Can anyone explain if this “settlement” will adequately remedy the parking situation in downtown Havre de Grace for the next year-and-a-half or is the county, financier of 60 percent of the water plant project, merely throwing city business owners a bone to keep them quiet and at least temporarily content?