Grader to share cost of fixing dam, but engineer says no

LAWRENCEVILLE - The president of a grading contractor that was the target of a community protest earlier this week said his company has offered to pay a third of the cost to repair a broken dam in Lawrenceville's Wildcat Lake subdivision.

But the business manager of the engineering company that Paramount Grading President John Pearson said would share that cost said he does not believe his group is at fault.

"I'm not familiar with an offer having been made," Development Consultants Group Business Manager Ben Colvin said. "I don't feel we're responsible for anything. I don't know where he got that idea."

The lake in the Wildcat Lake subdivision became swamp-like and full of sinkholes following the failure of a dam. John Shauger, president of the Wildcat Lake homeowners association, said the issues were a result of soil testing that was never done in the area. He estimated that it would take about $45,000 to repair the lake.

Bryan Lackey, the division director of Gwinnett's stormwater utility, said Shauger's analysis seemed consistent with the problems the lake was having. He said he was hopeful that the parties would be able to work the issue out themselves.

Pearson said his vacation and those of other key people in the discussions have slowed the process down. He said the dam failed between a year and 18 months ago.

"I'm hoping when everybody gets back to town, cooler heads prevail," he said. "We'll see what happens next week."

Shauger and other residents, most of them children, protested in front of Pearson's company Tuesday. Thursday, they marched with signs in front of the offices of Chris Doughtie, the developer of the project. A secretary at his company, Hallmark Development, said Doughtie was out of town. He did not return messages left at his office.

Shauger said if the three parties would agree to share the cost of the repairs, he would be pleased with the result of the protests.

"That would be quite a victory," he said. "Amen, amen, that would be perfect."

But Colvin said his company, which designed the size and slope of a pipe Shauger said sprung a number of leaks before shifting in the ground, did their job correctly.

Shauger said he did not think the engineer was at fault. If the money collected is not enough to fix the dam, he said, homeowners will have to pay for the rest.

Fran Patraker-Altman, who protested Thursday, said the group would continue e-mailing, calling and faxing the developer and others until they reached an appropriate solution.