By HEATHER CATHLEEN COX
Special to the NEWS
After months of litigation between the City of San Benito and its former engineering firm, Cruz-Hogan, elected officials have voted to obtain services of a new firm, LNV Engineers of Corpus Christi.
On Monday, December 8, the San Benito City Commission held a special meeting to discuss, review and screen engineering firms vying to obtain a position with the City of San Benito. The City’s previously contracted firm Cruz-Hogan of Harlingen, is currently involved in an ongoing legal battle with the City. At the meeting, officials decided to hire LNV Engineers.
In addition to LNV, other applicants for said position included the following: Alpha Infrastructure Engineering PLLC; Brown, Leal & Associates; Coym, Rehmet & Gutierrez; and Terracon.
Back in August, the City filed a lawsuit against Cruz-Hogan, alleging negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, breach of warranty, breach of contract and violating the Deceptive Trade Practices Act – all associated with Water Plant No. 2’s construction.
After Cruz-Hogan filed their own suit against the City on Nov. 3., the plaintiff’s principal, Orlando Cruz, alleged that the city left Cruz-Hogan with “no option but to defend itself against the frivolous actions of the City Commission and the malicious actions taken by the City Manager.”
Regarding the alleged dispute, City Manager Manuel Lara said, “I have no concerns with Cruz-Hogan.”
As previously reported, a study conducted by Lou Portillo and Associates PLLC, and Coym, Rehmet & Gutierrez Engineering LP stated that Plant No. 2 “never operated efficiently except in the early months of operation.”
Contritely, Cruz-Hogan’s report alleges that “…plant personnel was ‘not always strictly following the operation manual’ (plant protocol) in regards to chemical cleanings’…and… the water treatment plant failure was primarily due to the failure by City management to take proper action in the maintenance of the membrane filtration system.”
“There’s no specific job lined up right now,” for LNV said Lara. However, the firm will be utilized as “the City gets new contracts and projects,” Lara said.
Additionally, “since they are not familiar with the City, (LNV) will study the City’s infrastructure, the water treatment and waste treatment facilities. This is a city they’ve never been at, so I’m sure they’ll put some time into getting familiar with us,” Lara said.
LNV will be “sole engineering firm for future projects,” said Lara on Tuesday. “But we have two other firms with projects previously assigned to them … an architectural firm and an engineering firm out of San Antonio. Those are still being worked on, as they had been assigned previously.
With regard to the finite details of the contract between LNV and San Benito, Lara said, “I asked them to send me a contractual agreement and it will be reviewed before we sign an agreement with them. We’re (also) still negotiating the fees.”
Want the whole story? Pick up a copy of the San Benito News, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.