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Grasso given a go on $3.4 million paving contract

Joe Grasso, Jr., center, watches Tuesday’s Common Council meeting in City Hall, flanked by his mother and his lawyer.

NORWALK, Conn. – The Grasso Companies LLC was greenlighted Tuesday for a $3.4 million paving contract, over the objections of some of its neighbors.

The conversation sparked a testy exchange between Council member Travis Simms (D-District B) and Mayor Harry Rilling.

“This is one of the more difficult decisions I personally have faced up here,” Common Council member Tom Livingston (D-District E) said, beginning the discussion by recounting his research into the topic.

The Grasso Companies LLC is a separate entity from The Original Grasso Construction, which owes Norwalk perhaps $270,590 in property taxes, Livingston said. The Grasso Companies LLC, with Joe Grasso Jr. as its principle member, is also not guilty of numerous Zoning violations, as other Grasso companies, owned by Joe Grasso Sr., he said.

To deny Grasso the contract would be “asking the son to pay for the sins of father,” he said, and “if that is the case he would never be able to bid without being turned down.”

Livingston suggested adding a provision to enable the city to offset any violations during the course of the contract by issuing a penalty, which he said Grasso’s lawyer had agreed to, and to have the option to terminate the contract if there are violations.

Council member Travis Simms (D-District B) called giving Grasso a contract absurd, accusing Corporation Counsel Mario Coppola of pushing the contract.

Coppola later recounted the questions he had been asked.

“We did not issue conflicting decisions nor did we at any time push for you to hire Grasso,” Coppola said.

Simms returned to the issue later, asking why, “The corporation counsel, the mayor and some of the folks on the Council are so adamant about giving this contract” to Grasso.

“Do not put words in my mouth because I have not expressed an opinion,” Rilling said.

Simms talked over Rilling.

“The presiding officer has the floor,” Council member Eloisa Melendez (D-District A) said, but Simms kept talking.

“I have not been in discussion with you or anybody else on this issue,” Rilling said.

“I see where all this is coming from,” Simms said.

“What you see is your imagination, as it usually is,” Rilling replied.

“This has gotten personal,” Council member Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) said, calling that not allowable under Council rules.

Five minutes later, Council member Faye Bowman (D-District B) told Grasso that she didn’t want to penalize him indefinitely, but the company has not been a good neighbor.

“I have every intention of being a good neighbor. We want this behind us,” Grasso said.

The contract was approved with a 10-4-1 vote; voting against it were Rich Bonenfant (R-At Large), Doug Hempstead (R-At Large), Shannon O’Toole Giandurco (R-District D) and Simms. Bowman abstained.

5 comments

molly April 12, 2017 at 10:12 am

Total bull crap.. these people obviously have “friends” on this council. To all tax payers in Norwalk I suggest not paying your taxes and see what kind of special treatment you get. None is the answer. Because you are not one of the chosen few. Politics at it’s worst.

Dawn April 13, 2017 at 8:07 am

Unbelievable!!! I agree. They only are able to collect taxes because like lemmings we pay. Everyone should protest.

Donna April 21, 2017 at 9:48 am

Deering has the contract for work on Burritt. And they do a beautiful job. They work quickly ad efficiently and leave the job site clean at the end of every day. Would have preferred Deering was awareded this contract. Thank you, Mr. Simms, for your vocal opposition.

Jake May 24, 2017 at 10:35 am

You know it sucks to see someone ridiculed for their parents’ actions, as a paving contractor (and a family run business for generations) business changes with every exchange of hands. Every generation runs their outfit a little bit differently. We’re a PennDOT certified contractor who goes strictly by the book, however we know of several local business who are a little skimpy in other areas… Point is, you should always confront the business owner before making accusations (granted we also don’t know the whole story from this article)

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