Town looks to settle another dispute with engineering firm

12/28/2010 7:37 PM |

Riverhead Town is on the verge of reaching another cash settlement with Young and Young, the Riverhead-based engineering firm that agreed recently to pay the town $1.2 million in settlement of a lawsuit in which the town blamed the engineers for letting the massive landfill reclamation project go millions of dollars over budget.

The Town Board last week voted to authorize its outside legal counsel to effect a settement with Young and Young over a dispute in which the engineers claimed the town owes them $80,000.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said the disputed money stems from work on various other projects, including restoration of downtown’s Grangebel Park. The recent settlement calls for the town to pay Young and Young about $37,000, he said.

Asked if the two disputes are separate actions, Mr. Walter said, “It’s tied in because we haven’t seen the $1.2 million, so we’re not going to send them the $37,000 until we have a guarantee that we’re getting that money.”

In the landfill lawsuit, settled earlier this year, Young and Young agreed to pay the town $1.2 million, although the town will only receive $800,000 of that, with the rest going to its outside legal counsel.

The landfill project was begun as a state-of-the-art reclamation job, in which garbage and recyclables from the landfill would be excavated and removed, leaving “virgin sand,” as officials said at the time. But the project quickly exceeded its $40 million budget while it was only about one-third completed, and officials abandoned the job and capped the landfill instead.

Capping, in which a large plastic liner is placed over the landfill, is traditionally the method that the state permits for closing landfills.

The exact amount Riverhead overspent by reclaiming part of the landfill instead of capping right from the beginning is not easily determined since some of the landfill encroached on a neighboring project and would have had to be reclaimed anyway, but former Supervisor Phil Cardinale at one point estimated that the town had spent about $15 million more by launching the complete reclamation job.



232 Comment


  • It makes NO sense! Are they the only engineering firm on Long Island??

  • Type your comment here.
    “Old boy network”. The taxpayer pays for a town attorney. Why must we pay an “outside ” legal firm to do the paperwork. Before Young & Young got the contracts, were the jobs up for bids?

  • Nothing about this relationship smells right. Remember 3 things:

    1–The Town Board discontinued their lawsuit against these engineers BEFORE THE $1.2 MILLION SETTLEMENT WAS PAID. That’s like you selling me your house, signing over the deed & handing me the keys based on my promise to pay you soon. THIS JUST ISN’T DONE. Instead of the Town using its lawsuit as leverage to collect the $1.2 million we’re owed, with the lawsuit gone the engineers can & are using their debt as leverage to collect more fees from the Town. Absent an explanation, this should never have happened & is just DUMB.

    2–The $2 million insurance these engineers carried was a drop in the bucket compared to what their landfill errors cost us…but it would have been far better than the $1.2 million the Town Board accepted. WHY DID THE TOWN LEAVE $800,000 ON THE TABLE?

    3–The nature of the engineers’ policy made it obvious the case would settle rather than go to trial. In fact, the private attorneys representing the Town wrote no briefs & conducted no motion practice. THE $400,000 FEE WAS A PREDICTABLE & UNEARNED WINDFALL. In this situation, why did the Town give the kind of 1/3 contingency award you’d offer as incentive to a law firm needing to do serious work to win a case at trial? Did anyone try to negotiate a better deal, or interview other counsel? Did each member of the Town Board understand the nature of this contract before they voted for approval?