By RON CRAIG
In a room packed Tuesday morning with Fostoria area residents who own property along and near Wolf Creek, Seneca County commissioners listened as several voiced displeasure with the way the creek cleanup project is being done.
Paul Eickhoff, a resident of County Road 60, was the most vociferous of the group, first pointing out to commissioners no one from the project engineer, Feller and Finch, was there to address their concerns.
With the absence of a Feller and Finch representative, County Engineer Mark Zimmerman was left to field property owners’ questions and complaints.
“First, I want to know why the engineering firm for the project is not here to directly answer our questions,” Eickhoff said.
A call was made to Feller and Finch by the Review Times to seek an explanation as to why no one from the firm attended the meeting, but that call was not returned.
Eickhoff said his primary concern regarded the trees and debris being taken out of the creek are being piled up on or next to the creek banks.
“It’s too close to the channel and it will re-enter the stream. It’s on the banks and not (behind) the tree lines. How will you keep it from re-entering the stream?” Eickhoff asked.
When those gathered learned Feller and Finch is also serving as the inspector for the project, those attending were obviously not happy.
Zimmerman said he is overseeing the project and has addressed the issues with representatives of Feller and Finch.
“I agree with everything Paul said,” Zimmerman said, quickly taking responsibility for following up to make sure the engineering firm gets the issues resolved.
“We expect the standards to be followed,” Zimmerman said, adding he had heard from other residents and property owners who are equally unhappy with the handling of the cleanup work.
“Some washback has already been seen. The (debris) should have been put back behind the tree lines.”
Zimmerman said he hopes Feller and Finch has changed the way they are doing the work, but noted the firm did not get much work done the past week to allow him to observe any changes.
The county engineer said future payments to the firm will be withheld until he is satisfied the work is being done properly.
Eickhoff then asked Zimmerman if the payments being made to Feller and Finch have included inspection fees, asking the county engineer how the work has gotten this far without the proper inspections being completed properly.
“I have concerns about there not being a watchdog (over the project) that we’re supposed to have,” Eickhoff said.
While Zimmerman did not answer those concerns directly, he continued to take responsibility for following up on them with the project engineer.
Another property owner, who did not identify himself, asked Zimmerman if tree stumps along the creek are being treated to stunt re-growth. He said if they are being treated, it is with a colorless compound.
Zimmerman replied that tree stumps larger than four inches are being treated.
Commissioners Shayne Thomas and Holly Stacy echoed the property owners’ concerns.
“It needs to monitored more closely,” said Stacy, and Thomas said the project “needs to work” properly.
Mike Kerschner, president of the board of commissioners, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.
More questions were asked regarding the removal of sandbars in the creek. Some residents were concerned the sandbars may return after the cleanup project has been completed.
Zimmerman said some sandbars may return after storms, and said an additional contract to remove them may be necessary. He also pointed out an addendum to the current contract may adequately address the issue, even if some additional sandbar removal is done under a maintenance clause of the current contract.
Stacy said the county should prepare itself if a separate contract is needed for such future sandbar removal.
“We should get a quote on it,” Stacy said.
It was also learned during the work session the assessment schedules for the cleanup project should be available by the end of August.