Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Help Me Howard: Pompano Beach Road Construction
"We are from the government and we are here to help you." I know, start smiling, but some Pompano Beach residents are not happy after a road project started a year ago, and instead of improving the neighborhood, it's left many neighbors disgusted. They called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Every time it rained, parts of this Pompano Beach neighborhood had flooding.
Jim Valinzo, Disappointed By Road Work: "Oh, absolutely it was needed."
So the city decided to install new drains to take care of the problem.
Jim Valinzo, Disappointed By Road Work: "I was all in favor. I thought it was a fantastic thing if they could get rid some of the huge street flooding that we had through some of the major storms."
Now, the neighbors have been reminded of why people say "Be careful what you ask for."
Nancy: "Very frustrating."
Clint Martin, Upset By Quality of Work: "It's been a nightmare living over here in this neighborhood."
Jennifer: "Our yard has suffered damage, definitely."
The construction in the Pompano Isles neighborhood has not been, well, neighborly.
Jim Valinzo, Disappointed By Road Work: "I understand some of the hardship that goes with construction, when they're trying to better the community."
But Jim says this project, which cost taxpayers $1.3 million, has battered the neighborhood, from the driveways damaged and not repaired to ones covered in layers of concrete, swales that are cracked, broken glass where kids used to play, and then the truckloads of dirt.
Jim Valinzo, Disappointed By Road Work: "As you can see, they use the property across from my house as a dump zone."
And then, there is the little irritating things, like the workers throwing their trash on the ground every day.
Jim Valinzo, Disappointed By Road Work: "They acknowledged it, never cleaned it up, so one of the neighbors took it upon himself to clean it up."
The neighbors complained to the construction crews, who did listen.
Clint Martin, Upset By Quality of Work: "They would tell you whatever you were interested in hearing, but as far as doing what they said they were going to do, they haven't done any of that."
Since the City of Pompano Beach is paying for this and overseeing the project, the neighbors say they called everyone from inspectors to elected officials, and they say they got shoved aside.
Woman: "We called, and we're not getting any answers back.
Jim Valinzo, Disappointed By Road Work: "To be totally ignored, I think, is something none of us like."
Jim says the irony almost makes him smile. He and his neighbors pay the taxes to fund the salaries of the city officials who hire the contractors, and in turn the people treated the worst are the taxpayers, who are paying them all.
Jim Valinzo, Disappointed By Road Work: "It's a lack of respect and a lack of guidance by the city to at least come down and see what these contractors are leaving, the mess that they're leaving, and not even care about cleaning it up. Not at all professional."
Bottom line, the project was supposed to improve the neighborhood. But as it wraps up, the neighbors are fed up. So Howard, what can a taxpayer do?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "While property owners will have to put up with some inconvenience and aggravation during construction, they do not have to put up with real damage caused by the negligence of the workers the city hired. And it's the city's job to make sure that the contractor fixes the damage they cause."
When we contacted Pompano Beach, they first questioned if the damage we saw was caused by the construction crews. A spokesperson then asked why the residents didn't contact them about their problems. We told them they said they did and no one from the city responded. The spokesperson, Sandra King, then went out to the site with inspectors overseeing the project.
That's when things changed. The city then agreed to fix the list of items residents had complained to us about, 10 issues that are now being replaced or repaired.
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "A good idea before construction starts around you: Take pictures and video, so you have visual proof if something goes wrong."
Jim Valinzo, Disappointed By Road Work: "After calling you, they came out here."
The city fixed the items they promised to resolve. But the recent rains may have pointed out a possible design flaw: No drains were put near Jim and his neighbors' houses, and now when it rains, he and his neighbors' yards flood.
Jim Valinzo, Disappointed By Road Work: "They made my drainage worse. I will always have the question, Why they didn't put drains in this section of the road that they tore up?"
Patrick Fraser: "Why didn't the new drainage project include drains near Jim and his neighbors' houses? The city says because the water table is so high, drains would not have helped. The residents say, No, it's because the roads were not sloped properly, so the water can't run to drains down the street. But both side do agree: Nothing can be done now."
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