Palmview council agrees to move forward with street paving

PALMVIEW — Frustrated with delays, city officials here voted to move forward on paving city streets despite recent hiccups with the ongoing sewer project led by the Agua Special Utility District.

The Palmview council members made the decision during a Monday meeting, with some of the members expressing an urgency and unwillingness to hold off on the work any longer.

In fact, the city’s contactor, Earthworks, had already resumed work on the street paving, City Manager Michael Leo confirmed to the council.

The status of the streets has been a source of anger for residents since work began on a project to install sewer lines in the city of Palmview, a project launched by Agua SUD.

After residents voiced concerns about the patchwork of the streets following the sewer work, city officials formed an agreement with Agua SUD. The city’s own contractor would pave the entire streets after Agua SUD completed the sewer work.

Unfortunately for the city, Agua SUD was in the midst of a bitter feud with one of their contractors — OG Construction — which escalated last week when the utility district decide to terminate them.

But even before the official termination, work on the part of the project for which OG was hired had stalled.

Agua SUD accused OG of being months behind schedule and failing to address deficiencies, while OG accused the utility district of withholding payment and said their work was 99% complete.

The Law Office of Jonathan Lee Almanza, a firm representing OG, said in a statement issued after OG was fired that they had met with residents to hear their concerns.

It was after that meeting — a roundtable discussion with OG and members of the city council held on Oct. 18 — that the Palmview City Council decided they weren’t going to wait on Agua SUD anymore and would start paving the streets that had not yet been released to them.

City council member Linda Sarabia said there were concerns that Agua would object to the city taking that initiative, but those dissipated after Agua fired OG.

“Although we were going to do it regardless, it puts us somewhat at ease that we’re not going to have any further delays,” she said, “other than weather.”

Leo, the Palmview city manager, said Agua SUD informed them of OG’s firing last week and presented them with two options — the city could wait the two to three months it would take to hire a replacement contractor or the city could pave now and the replacement contractor would finish the sewer work at a later time, tearing up the roads again in the process, but would be responsible for paving them again.

The city opted for the latter.

“That has been our plan since day one,” said council member Joel Garcia, the mayor pro-tem. “If they have litigation or whatever they’re going through, I don’t think they should hold the city hostage and we should go ahead and pave the streets how we planned it a long time ago, because that’s what we had promised the people.”

The streets for which paving has already begun include Veterans Road, from Minnesota Road going west to Abram Road, and south to La Homa Road.

The streets still pending include Veterans from Bentsen Road to La Homa, Breyfogle North, Paradise, Donna, Sun Valley, Towers Road, Patriot Street and Butchs Drive.

Work on all of those streets is expected to be completed in four to six weeks, according to Leo.

“ The decision wasn’t made Thursday or Friday,” Garcia said after Monday’s city council meeting, reiterating they had decided before OG’s termination that they didn’t want to wait for Agua’s go-ahead.

“Since we had the knowledge that we weren’t going to harm or delay the project, it was just something between them, then ‘you know what, let’s go ahead and pave the streets,’” Sarabia said of the city’s reasoning to move forward, regardless of Agua’s approval.

“It’s just better that they’re in agreement with us doing it,” she added.

bereniceg@themonitor.com