HAMMOND — The remnants of the former River Park Apartments complex apparently still haunt the site that the city of Hammond has developed into an office, hotel, and retail complex known as Oxbow Landing.
The Hammond Redevelopment Commission filed a lawsuit in Lake County Superior Court earlier this year against the company it says was hired in 2006 to demolish and excavate the site of the former complex and the company it said was paid to oversee the process. The lawsuit filed against Dore & Associates Contracting Inc. and Amereco Inc., doing business as Amereco Engineering Inc., claims that debris was left behind at what was supposed to be a shovel ready site.
Earlier this month, the commission entered into a new agreement with the law firm of Westland and Bennett P.C. to represent the commission in the case on a contingency, rather than hourly fee, basis. The agreement calls for the firm to receive one-third of anything it is able to recover in the case. The next status hearing in the case is set for June 9, 2017, before Judge Calvin D. Hawkins.
Phil Taillon, the executive director of planning and development for Hammond, said the city had to expend extra money after debris was discovered at sites purchased from the city by Byway Brewing Co. and ATG Real Estate Development, which began construction last year of an office building at Oxbow Landing. In addition, Taillon said the city sold a second parcel of land to ATG Real Estate Development at a reduced price because of potential debris problems at the site.
When asked how much the city was seeking in the suit, attorney David Westland said it would be somewhere north of $300,000 because that is how much the problems with the debris have cost the city to this point.
“I don’t know how much more we are going to run into,” he said.
According to the lawsuit, Dore & Associates was paid more than $2.1 million under a contract for environmental remediation, demolition and excavation of the troubled River Parks Apartment Complex along Kennedy Avenue.
“They were supposed to remove everything so it was a shovel ready site,” Taillon said.
The lawsuit claims that last fall, the Redevelopment Commission “was provided proof that the construction demolition debris, including rebar, lumber, concrete footings, and concrete slabs, as well as rubbish, rubber tires, and glass bottles were dumped in the former foundations of the apartment buildings and covered with black organic clay, sand and topsoil.”
It claims that Dore & Associates “knew, negligently allowed, and/or participated in the dumping” of the debris.
The lawsuit claims Amereco Engineering Inc. was to provide architectural and engineering services in regard to the work Dore did. It says that the company “knew, negligently allowed and/or failed to discover the dumping.”
Lyndsay Ignasiak, an attorney representing Dore and Associates, said she does not comment on ongoing litigation. Filings by both companies, however, denied the allegations in the lawsuit. The filings by both parties also pointed the finger at the city and its monitoring of the site for any damages that may have occurred.
Taillon said the debris was discovered when some of the companies that had purchased land from the commission started excavations for their buildings. Most of the debris, said Taillon, was discovered on the north side of Carlson Drive.