/ Articles / Winchester building project to be ‘reverse engineered’

Winchester building project to be ‘reverse engineered’

July 09, 2019 by Brian Jopek

The town of Winchester will be advertising for bids to complete a stormwater retention plan for its new town garage.

The new structure is where the old building was and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had received complaints about the town’s salt pile and a petroleum leak in that area. 

That resulted in a request from the DNR for the town to comply with stormwater retention requirements. 

‘It’s a big problem’

It’s the latest in a series of delays the town has sustained in getting its new town garage completed. 

Town chairman Joe Discianno said at last week’s town board meeting the DNR request stems from a recent visit by agency personnel who were inspecting the current bike trail construction along a stretch of County Highway W.

He said they noticed the town didn’t “have any kind of a flood plan filed with them” for the new building.

“When you disturb more than an acre of land, which we obviously did, you need a stormwater runoff (plan),” Discianno said. 

He said the new building project was flagged by the DNR and he’d received “numerous letters” from the agency.

Roughly a week prior to the July 1 town board meeting, he said he’d contacted Ironwood-based Coleman Engineering.

“They came down right away and got us an estimate,” Discianno said.

The estimate, for $13,200, was for work to develop a stormwater retention plan, which hadn’t been done as part of the planning and design of the new town garage. 

“This is just one estimate,” Discianno said. “They have to reverse-engineer the project is what it boils down to. When you do a project of that size and you’re building on that much land, you usually do a topographical survey first.”

That survey, he said, outlines things such as the terrain involved and foundation height. 

“It gives them the ability to figure out where all the water’s gonna run to,” Discianno said. “Well, when you don’t do that and you put up a building and now everything’s flat as a pancake, it’s a problem. It’s a big problem.”

He said it would cost the town more money to reverse-engineer the project or that part of it. 

Discianno said one other thing a topographical survey would do is provide the height for the town’s new salt shed building. 

“There’s not a whole lot of places for the water to go right now,” he said. 

“Why wasn’t this part of the building project?” town supervisor Sulo Wainio asked. 

Neither he or Discianno were on the town board when the engineering and design for the new town garage was done. 

“It’s a good point,” Discianno said. “The reason I bring it up is because I’ve run into this on building projects before and sometimes, people think they’re gonna save a buck and that’s not necessary. You find out in the long run it ends up costing you more money.”

He said because the project is flagged by the DNR, there can be no further ground disturbance on the site whatsoever. 

“These guys can get on this right away,” Discianno said, referring to Coleman Engineering. 

Wainio’s wife Joan, the town clerk, explained there was no need to go out for bid, but the estimate from Coleman Engineering would need to posted because of the expense should the town board decide to go in that direction. 

Discianno said he did have a list of other engineering firms and called Coleman Engineering because, aside from another firm in Rhinelander, they were the closest to the town. 

“They can get down here right away,” he said. “They looked at it the next day after our phone call.”

Never came up

Town supervisor Galen Brownewell indicated he’d like to see comparisons from other firms to do the survey work and create the stormwater retention plan. 

Discianno agreed, saying the information from Coleman Engineering was what he had gathered “in two weeks’ time.”

Joan Wainio reiterated it wasn’t necessary in this case, but probably a good idea to get other bids. 

There was no disagreement there, either, but Discianno said the town board needed to “jump on this.”

“We can’t do septic or anything right now,” Sulo Wainio said.

“No, we can’t do anything,” Discianno said. “So, we need to get a couple estimates.”

He was asked by a member of the audience if it was known who turned the town into the DNR for the salt pile and petroleum leak issues. 

“I think they would have caught up to us eventually,” Discianno said, adding that Melissa Yarrington with the DNR made note of a piece of property across the road from the town garage.

“You want to talk about a property being in violation, that thing is completely covered in buildings and pavement, you know,” he said. “Actually, I think Sulo turned us in.”

Since then, Discianno said he’s been fielding calls from Vilas County, the DNR and Bike Inc.

“It’s just been kind of ridiculous,” he said. “Like, we didn’t have enough on our plates that this happened.”

Brownewell, who was on the town board throughout the project, said he was “a little bit shocked” over the matter.  

“I was in shock because we’ve been in contact with the state, we’ve been in contact with the DNR a little bit on that property,” he said. “None of this ever came up.” 

“Like I say, they do a calculation out there and if it’s more than an acre, then ...” Discianno began. 

“I mean, that’s why I think it wasn’t done,” Brownewell said. “I’m not trying to ... I was on the old board so I’m part to blame. I’m not gonna deny that.”

He said there had never been anything mentioned about any of this and also didn’t want to blame Discianno’s predecessor, Rick Clem.

“He’s not here to defend himself, but, you know, he was pretty much handling that portion of that project,” he said. “I’m just kind of shocked ... this is new to me.”

Brownewell said there should probably be a motion to go out for bids to get the engineering done. 

“We need to get going,” he said. 

Discianno clarified for an audience member the “flag” from the DNR for the project in this instance doesn’t mean whatever interior work and exterior work on the structure itself can’t continue. 

“We can’t do any ground disturbance,” he said. “So, no digging, no moving of earth whatsoever. It delays our electrical service going in and a lot of other things.”

As for the salt complaint, Discianno said his understanding was there was no violation because of the sand/salt mixture.

“I guess we’re inspected by the Department of Transportation every year,” he said. “But I was instructed to cover it to satisfy the complaint.”

As for any petroleum leaks, Discianno said he’s talked to the town road crew and no one has been “able to come up with anything” aside from removing the soil containing residual petroleum and disposing of it properly, something suggested by the DNR.

Brownewell made the motion to advertise for bids, Wainio seconded and it passed unanimously.

“We got a couple steps forward here,” Discianno said. “We got the roof on and then we took a couple steps back.”

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]

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