The Ross Cause

5/15/2011 Email to Town and Village Officials Documenting Continued Stormwater Problems

From: Bob Ross, Professional Engineer. []
Sent: Sunday, May 15, 2011 8:03 PM
To: 'Charles Gibbs'; 'Dan Sullivan'; 'Kevin Barry'; 'Mike Ciancaglini'; 'Sal Granato'; 'William Copperwheat'; 'Jim Collea'; 'Larry Felitto (c/o: Village Clerk)'; 'Mike Mahoney'; 'Rich Hayes'; 'Tom Thomas'; 'Tony Leone'; 'Ammon Bush'; 'Jim Cummings'; 'Joe Bayer'; 'John Franz'; Karl Schrantz; 'Linda Shumaker'; 'Paul Romano'; 'Paul Waters'; 'Vernon Myers'
Cc: Robert & Barbara Ross; Jamie Ross
Subject: Holy Trinity Cemetery - Ross Property

Attachments: Ex A_06-18-2008_Shumaker Report_Narrative Only.pdf; Ex B_09-17-2008_Ltr to Shumaker.pdf; Ex C_04-23-11 Pics.pdf; Ex D_04-28-11 Pics.pdf; Ex E_Village Engineer Letters.pdf

To Whitestown Supervisor Gibbs & Town Councilmen:

In 2008, you passed a Resolution regarding the Holy Trinity Cemetery and the Ross Property. This Resolution formally accepted the findings presented in a report (Exhibit A) prepared by Shumaker Engineering. Despite the Ross’ providing overwhelming evidence to the contrary, this report concluded that the Cemetery was not responsible for ponding water on the Ross property.


Prior to passing this Resolution, I warned you that Shumaker’s report was fundamentally flawed. It contains numerous errors in calculations, resulting in completely unreliable results (junk in = junk out). Allow me to remind you, Mr. Peter Smart, developer of the calculation software used by Shumaker, agreed with me that data entered into the program by Shumaker was incorrect – see Exhibit B.


Please see the attached pictures - Exhibits C & D. These pictures were taken on 04-23-11 and 04-28-11; they indisputably disprove Shumaker’s findings.


Shumaker told you that Yorkville’s pipe on Douglas Ave had the capacity to handle all stormwater runoff from the Cemetery caused by all rainstorms of 3.8 inches or less. If so, why is this pipe backing-up water onto the Ross’ property after rainfalls of only 0.86 inches and 0.89 inches?


Shumaker told you the detention pond was large enough to hold all stormwater runoff from the Cemetery caused by all rainstorms of 5.4 inches or less. If so, why is the detention pond full and overflowing after rainfalls of only 0.86 inches and 0.89 inches?


These recent rainstorms were significantly smaller than those Shumaker told you the detention pond was capable of holding. These pictures show ponding on the Ross Property indisputably caused by runoff from the Cemetery. Yet, Shumaker told you this would never happen. I hope this causes you to reconsider your confidence in their work.


I also urged you to be concerned when Shumaker appeared unwilling to provide a copy of this report with a professional engineer’s signature and seal. Section 7209 of Article 145 of the NYS Education Law identifies when a professional engineer is required to sign and seal documents. “In general, all plans, specifications and reports prepared by a professional engineer … shall be signed and sealed when filed with public officials.”


I encourage you to request a signed and sealed copy of the report from Shumaker – what reason could they have for denying your request? Additionally, ask them if they have reviewed Exhibits B, C and D prior to affixing their seal and signature.


There is obviously a need to re-open discussions on this issue. Please provide a response after having a chance to review this email and its attachments.



To the Village of Yorkville Mayor and Trustees:


Prior to the approval of the Cemetery project, the Village Engineer established very specific requirements regarding a connection to the Village’s storm sewers - see Exhibit E. The Town Planning Board (Acting Chairman Karl Schrantz at the time) disregarded those requirements when they approved the Cemetery project.


The Town Engineer (Shumaker) recently completed a report acknowledging that the Cemetery does not satisfy the Village’s requirements, but concluded compliance is not necessary since the Cemetery is not to blame for ponding on the Ross property – Exhibits C & D prove otherwise.


You have been very patient with the Town, but the time has come to demand that the Cemetery project be brought into compliance with the Village’s original requirements. In my opinion, failing to do so will subject you to a violation of NYS Village Law §4-412 which obligates you to protect the property of Village residents. A notice-to-claim will be filed if immediate action is not taken.



To Shumaker Engineering:


I previously contacted you (Exhibit B) regarding errors in your report. To the best of my knowledge, you did nothing to address them.


As an example; Mr. Peter Smart, Developer of the HydroCAD software used in your report, agreed with me that data entered into the program by you was incorrect. Yet, to the best of my knowledge you have made no effort to make corrections. Am I to conclude that you consider yourselves more of an authority on the use of HydroCAD than the Developer himself?


Should no effort be made to correct the calculations included in the report, I will submit a complaint alleging incompetence and negligence to the NYS – Office of Professional Discipline and make a request for a formal hearing in front of the Professional Engineering Board.


I hope at least one Partner is willing to take an interest in this issue. You can download additional documentation at the following link (available thru 5/21/11):


I believe you will be stunned by the lack of objectivity and incompetence that you will find. In other words, I suspect you would not be the one volunteering to defend this report in a debate in front of the NYS PE Board.




Robert W. Ross , PE

198 Thompson Street

Halifax , MA 02338