H’town settles suit by airport engineers

SARANAC LAKE – The town of Harrietstown has agreed to pay nearly $62,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by an engineering firm that did design work at the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear.

Stantec Consulting Services Inc. entered into a contract with the town in February 2010 to design an addition to the town’s building for snow removal and aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment.

Town Supervisor Bob Bevilacqua said the dispute surrounded how complete the plans for the project were.

“To get (Federal Aviation Administration) funding, you have to have complete plans, and (Stantec) said the plans were more complete than we believed they were, and they were looking for more money to finish the plans,” Bevilacqua said.

In December 2012, Stantec filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the town in Franklin County State Supreme Court, seeking $102,099 in damages.

The town hired Malta-based attorney Gregg Johnson of Lemire Johnson LLC. Johnson was able to negotiate a settlement with Stantec in which the town would pay the company $61,800 to resolve the dispute, according to a resolution authorizing the settlement.

If town didn’t settle, the resolution says “it would take a considerable amount of time to resolve the matter, and the town would incur considerable expense, all with an attendant uncertainty of outcome, and the town board has determined that it will be in the town’s best interests for the matter to be settled and compromised.”

The town board approved the settlement unanimously following an executive session at its April 11 meeting.

“We settled it for about half of what they were originally looking for,” Bevilacqua said. “We hope to be able to get reimbursed through the FAA’s (Airport Improvement Program) for most if not all of it.”

The FAA awarded the town roughly $50,000 in 2010 to fund the expansion of the building. Town officials have said that the existing building isn’t big enough to accommodate all their vehicles and equipment.

Bevilacqua said Friday that the project is still in the design phase.

Stantec had been the town’s airport engineering consulting firm for several years until May 2010 when the town hired a new company, Passero Associates.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.