Faulty sewer line leads to sports complex porta pottie shuffle

Published 8:06 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2018

By Diana McFarland and Frederic Lee 

Staff writers

Emails from Smithfield officials to Town Council members and Smithfield Recreation indicates that there are problems with a sewer line and leaking at the concession stand at the new multimillion dollar sports complex.

The problems will be corrected at the expense of the contractors involved and not the town, according to Smithfield Parks and Recreation Director Amy Novak. 

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The Joseph W. Luter Jr. Sports Complex opened recently to accommodate games with the Smithfield Recreation Association, but porta potties and hand cleansing stations were needed because the sewer line was installed incorrectly, according to an email from Novak to Smithfield Recreation and which Town Manager Brian Thrower forwarded to Town Council members.  {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

“We are livid, as we know you are, that this multimillion dollar facility has unusable bathrooms and concessions due to their poor workmanship. And even though they are willing to make it right, it does not help remedy the awful situation they have put us in,” said Novak about the contractors who constructed the items in question. 

The concession stand leaks during heavy rains, said Thrower in his email to Council.

Thrower also advised Council members to direct any questions from the newspaper to him.

Novak told Smithfield Recreation that the sewer line has so many deficiencies that the town is unable to use the pump and haul system it had set up. 

Novak said in an email Tuesday that some sidewalks and pavement will have to be disturbed to make the repairs, and which is the responsibility of RAD Sports. 

RAD Sports is also responsible for the porta potties, she said. 

To get through the weekend’s round of games, Novak told Smithfield Recreation that the town had ordered six additional portable restrooms and three hand-washing stations. Novak also said The Smithfield Center could be used for washing utensils.  

“Rest assured that the town is doing everything they need to hold the contractor(s) responsible,” wrote Novak. 

The concession building had leaking through the vents that were installed in the bathroom and concession area, and those repairs are the responsibility of A.R. Chesson, said Novak of the building contractor.

Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams said the town plans to implement a pump and haul system for the remainder of the fall season and the lines will be repaired after that. 

Town Treasurer Ellen Minga told the Town Council at an August committee meeting that the town had $350 left in its construction budget for the sports complex. 

“Any operating expenses going forward are taken from the budget we have for the sports complex.  Smithfield Recreation will pay a $25,000 annual lease payment and the town will have other groups paying to rent the fields so that will provide funding for the venue,” said Novak.

The town decided to go ahead and open the sports complex prior to the turn lane being completed — which had been a requirement issued by VDOT. Town officials indicated that VDOT said the complex could open as long as police officers were available to direct traffic. 

This isn’t the first set of problems with the sports complex. Earlier this year, contractors failed to install a floor drain in the family changing room and it was decided that a drain would be installed in another location as an alternative fix.     {/mprestriction}