CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A New York based company sued by the city of Charleston for failing to design a working compost facility asked city officials to sign a confidentiality agreement as part of the multi-million dollar settlement.
However, city officials refused to do so.
"It was a botched design," Mayor Danny Jones said about the facility.
O'Brien & Gere Engineers Inc. designed the compost facility at Copenhaver Park. However, the facility has never worked well, and the city sanitary sewer board lost thousands of dollars annually operating the facility.
The facility was designed to allow the city to compost yard waste and the sanitary sewage board to turn sewage sludge into Class A compost, said Larry Roller, director of the Sanitary Board.
The city can still use the facility to compost yard waste, but the Sanitary Board cannot use it to compost sewage sludge, Roller said.
"The facility just doesn't work right," he said.
The Sanitary Board filed suit against the company in 2000, and after 12 years of litigation and thousands of dollars of legal fees, the company agreed to settle for $2.6 million, Jones said.
The city had originally sued the company for $1.5 million. The Sanitary Board paid about $6 million to construct the facility.
O'Brien & Gere Engineers Inc. was contracted to design the facility and oversee its construction, Roller said.
After the settlement, which included the original suit amount plus legal and other fees, the company asked city officials to sign a confidentiality agreement stating they would not talk about the case, Jones said.
This was something he had no intention of doing, he said.
"We got our money," Jones said.
Jones pointed out that public entities such as city council couldn't sign confidentiality agreements involving settlements.
The funds will now go to the Sanitary Board, Jones said.
City council members also agreed to award a contract to construct retaining walls on Overbrook Road and Lilly Drive for $198,999 to Thaxton Construction Inc.
Overbrook Road near the intersection with Stone Road was closed about two months ago when a portion of the retaining wall collapsed.