NORWALK, Conn. – A Norwalk company has won more than $4 million in Norwalk contracts to pave city streets in spite of concerns expressed about its past performance.
Deering Construction Inc. will do the bulk of the paving expected this summer, after the Common Council on Tuesday unanimously authorized Mayor Richard Moccia to sign two contracts with the firm. (Council members David McCarthy and Warren Peña were absent.)
Zoning Commissioner Mike Mushak, the only public speaker at the meeting, protested the proposed contract.
“There are many years of complaints about Deering, from residents, from taxpayers, from city officials,” he said. “These are recorded in the press. The police actually have recorded events of accidents that have occurred because of safety violations from Deering. There’s a long history here. Last year I believe Deering did not pave the streets. I think we did notice a difference. Before that were five years of reports that I could find.”
Mushak said Department of Public Works Director Hal Alvord had been quoted as criticizing the firm, citing one story by this reporter, but after being called to the lectern by Councilman David Watts (D-District A), Alvord disputed that.
“I have had concerns with the way we have worked with Deering in the past,” he said. “Not mostly on paving, but on other contracts that we have had. It had to do with cleanliness of the worksite. It had to do with scheduling and in following the schedule. It had to do with project closeout.”
There have been many meetings between the company and city officials, he said. The last three projects Deering did went “very smoothly,” he said.
“The drainage project on West Main Street, we actually got a number of unsolicited compliments from residents on the street about how neat they were, how clean they were,” he said. “At the end of the every day, how courteous the employees were to residents.”
The council is obligated to take the lowest bidder unless there are major concerns, Mayor Richard Moccia said. “I’ve had some differences with Deering. I believe that’s in the past,” he said.
Deering’s bid was $117,000 lower than the nearest competitor, Councilman Bruce Kimmel said. Alvord had allayed the concerns of council members during committee discussions, he said, emphasizing that is important to keep the business in Norwalk.
‘I’m confident that the good work that they have begun to do in the city of Norwalk will continue as we move forward.”
There are 75 city streets on the list to get paved this summer, and $5 million in paving authorized under the capital budget. Alvord did not explain the discrepancy between the $4 million Deering contract and the budget amount, but said that another company will also be paving because of work left over from last year.
The work will begin as soon as asphalt is available, he said. He expects that will be in April.