A property developer is pushing back against the “bad press” it allegedly received about its work to upgrade the drainage and sump-pump problem for The Estates at Creekstone condominiums.
NewRock Development submitted a letter to city manager Jim Puffalt and city council in late November after a group from The Estates spoke to council in October.
Condo residents said during the presentation that they were dealing with smelly drainage problems and wanted to re-direct that sump pump water into the sanitary sewer system.
City administration presented NewRock’s letter at the Jan. 23 regular city council meeting, which council voted unanimously to receive and file. Some councillors also apologized for their remarks about the company's work.
Although there was no motion from the October presentation to address the situation, council still asked city administration to meet with NewRock to address the condo reps’ concerns, a council report explained.
City administration met with Rob Whitten, vice-president of operations, and Darrick Muth, manager of operations, in mid-November, which allowed the business to clarify its role and responsibility with the project.
The officers explained that their company had submitted plans to city hall for approval that a civil engineer had designed and stamped while it had followed all the proper approval processes. NewRock installed the sewer and water infrastructure in 2013-14 and asphalt in 2017 before turning over the land to the condo board.
The current condo board did not contact NewRock before it reached out to city hall, while the developer has worked on various solutions over the years to address the drainage issues with this development, the report added. NewRock is willing to work with the new condo board to solve the issues, while the board would be responsible for all costs.
‘A negative light’
“It has been years since we last reviewed the site drainage/active sumps with the condo board, so we were shocked to see NewRock’s name splashed across the news in such a negative light,” Whitten wrote.
The developer worked with the two previous condo boards to address their water issues, but a “common challenge” is the owners are usually divided on ideas, opinions and how best to proceed, he continued.
The first condo board had concerns about standing water in the drainage swales, so NewRock presented a solution to the residents. The owners decided on French drains in specific areas, which the developer agreed — at no cost — to install. These proved successful in removing water from the areas where water built up.
“Overall, the owners were happy with this design and results, but some owners did not like the appearance,” added Whitten.
The second condo board wanted to address the water coming from the French drains and parking lot by installing rock wells to direct the water underground. NewRock provided the geotechnical reports and contacts for additional consultation with another geotechnical engineer.
However, the work never occurred because the owners disputed the proposed upgrades.
‘An unfair bleak picture’
NewRock followed all required procedures, codes and bylaws throughout the project’s development and conducted a proper geotechnical land evaluation that did not show unusual or high groundwater levels, said Whitten.
“Obviously, some of these active pumps are causing problems and the presentation to council presented an unfair bleak picture of the development. Regardless, council and staff have an obligation to research and be well-informed prior to making judgment or comment,” he continued.
“The picture that the City of Moose Jaw painted of NewRock was unjustified, inappropriate and harmful to our reputation. Since 2012, we have maintained an excellent working relationship with the City of Moose Jaw and invested millions to help develop the community.”
Whitten then highlighted some news headlines and comments from councillors that he believed were unfair.
Not only did the “bad press” damage the company’s reputation, but it also created panic among some clients and purchasers, with two homeowners attempting to cancel their new purchases, Whitten continued.
He thought it was unacceptable for council to make “uninformed and irresponsible comments on the public record.” He wanted council to push the Moose Jaw Express/MooseJawToday.com and Discover Moose Jaw to retract or correct the comments.
The next regular council meeting is Monday, Feb. 13.