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CB Council to deny claim for damages

Wardman Companies, Inc. has filed a claim against the Town of Colonial Beach in the amount of $14,934.98 for damages sustained to the Riverview Inn on June 21, 2012.

The town’s insurance carrier has previously evaluated and denied this claim because the Town of Colonial Beach was not legally responsible for the damage, according to Resolution 31-13, which will be voted on at the May 9 Town Council meeting.

The hotel’s windows were busted out when Dominion Virginia Power workers hit a water main while trying to bore into the street at the intersection of Irving Ave. and Hawthorne St.  A huge geyser was formed, and shot rocks and water across the intersection and into the hotel’s lobby windows. Dominion workers were attempting to place a power pole directly into the street at that intersection.

At first, the water started to leak out, bringing up sand and debris. As the water was forced out, the street began to cave in, eventually leaving a six to seven-foot crack, and a hole about five-feet deep.

As the dirt and rocks were being washed away, the pressure shot water out over 25 feet, resulting in rocks being hurled through the front lobby windows of the Riverview Inn.

Dominion officials would not comment at the time, but town officials say that Dominion Power was drilling into the street, directly over a marked water main.

Ed and Barbara Wise, who have a summer home in Placid Bay, were visiting relatives and killing time before they left town when the incident occurred.

Wise said he saw water running down near the Town Municipal Pier with sand in it. He thought the town was blowing out the water pipes, but then he noticed it was a water leak, and walked up to see what was going on.

“It wasn’t that bad at first, it was just bubbling, but it kept getting bigger and stuff started caving in.”

Wise said that workers were attempting to turn the water off. “All I heard was a big hiss, which wasn’t gas, it was just water...air pressure, and that thing started geysing and started shooting stones and rocks.”

Wise said that’s when he decided to move, and they watched rocks fly through the front windows of the lobby of the hotel.

Town officials have maintained that Dominion did not have approval from the town, because they were attempting to place a power pole directly into the street, and over a water main.

Town Manager Val Foulds said that town staff was meeting upstairs with key personnel, when someone said, “VDOT was drilling in the street.”  Town staff did not know that Dominion was coming that day.

Previous poles along that section of Irving Ave. are all placed just off the sidewalk, within the gutter-areas of the street. The corner pole was the only pole that was embedded in the sidewalk.

Dominion’s intentions were to replace the pole on the corner (in the sidewalk) with a new pole, placing it in the street.

Public Works Director Rob Murphy told the Journal right after the incident that he did have a conversation with Dominion officials previously. Murphy said that Dominion referred to the other poles being in the street, but Murphy said that he told them, “That was old news,” indicating that the town would not allow Dominion to put the corner pole in the street.

The resolution before the council states that Colonial Beach Town Council has carefully considered the claim for damages. The resolution is drafted to deny Wardman’s claim at the May 9 meeting.
Dominion officials would not comment on record.

Linda Farneth

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