BELLOWS FALLS — "No good deed goes unpunished," Municipal Manager Shane O'Keefe said Tuesday night of a dispute between the village of Bellows Falls and a business owner over sprinkler system reimbursements.
Michael Bruno, the owner of Windham Antique Center, contracted with the village to install a new sprinkler system in his shop. The village agreed to pay for and provide no more than $7,000 worth of materials relating to plumbing fixtures. Bruno was not allowed to buy materials on his own, but the village ended up providing him with the wrong type of pipes.
When Bruno's contractor John Hodgkins, of Hodgkins & Sons, dug up the concrete to place the new pipes he discovered the error. Bruno went to the trustee meeting asking them to reimburse the extra cost that went into the construction given the error.
While O'Keefe argued that the village, "was under no obligation," to pay the invoice, trustees felt it was the right thing to do.
"I would argue that the error was made not by the building owner but by the water department," Trustee Deborah Wright said.
Trustee President Myles Mickle agreed. "I think we knew what we were getting to with these expenses," he said.
Trustee James McAuliffe said that he didn't know if the village would be continuing to pay for these expenses for other businesses, but that he thought it was important to encourage people to make the investment. Initially, he didn't think the village was responsible for the bill because he felt like it should be up to the business owner to tell the water department what materials he needed.
Hodgkins stated that there was no way to know what materials would be needed without digging the pipes up. The village had made an assumption before the project started about what pipes could be used.
Trustee Steven Adams agreed that the assumption was the village's fault. "That's on us," he said.
The trustees unanimously voted to pay $2,608 for the mistake.