To the Editor:
During the Monroe Town Council meeting on August 15, 2022, the First Selectman discussed the lack of progress on the Pepper Street Reconstruction Project. He referenced meetings with the general contractor — the Grasso Company — and he stated: “At our most recent meeting last week, the contractor’s president, and his legal counsel, made a clear commitment to devote the resources necessary to substantially complete the project by November of this year.”
Clearly the Grasso Company failed to meet that commitment!
The Grasso Company did no work over the winter months. They did not start work when the normal construction season opened in April, even though at one point it was expected that they would start on April 10th.
Construction activities did not start until May 8th according to the First selectman’s report at the May 8th Town Council meeting. The problem that still exists is that Grasso continues to have only a minimal number of workers on the project during any given day.
During most of May, only one team of three or four workers were working daily within the whole project area. Even through most of June only two groups were working simultaneously. Even worse, they will work on one piece of the project and then abandon it for days or weeks.
On May 23, a crew of about five workers installed an asphalt section of the trail across the driveway of the house at 347 Pepper St. They have not done any other significant work on the trail since.
Why? There is clearly work that can be done such as the installation of concrete where the trail meets Grant Road and where it crosses the Northbrook entrance. They could also complete the section where the trail reenters the woods so that people who use the trail would not be forced to walk or ride through an area under construction.
The work on the culvert is another example where the Grasso company clearly has not had the workers necessary to make continued progress. The outer parapet walls were framed and ready for concrete to be poured back in December 2022, yet they were not poured until the week of June 5th.
The following week of June 12-16, workers removed the forms and started the framing and rebar work on the center section for each parapet wall. Unfortunately, there has been absolutely no work done since June 16th.
On Monday June 26th, they ripped up and regraded for the new alignment of Garder Road where it approaches Pepper Street. However, they worked only three consecutive days, leaving a dirt and rocky stretch of road sitting significantly below the grade of the existing roads.
It had been about 10 months since they first dug up part of that area and then just let it sit. When are they going to come back and complete the road or at least put down some pavement and raise the road level?
There are many work items just waiting for workers. There are trees marked to be cut down in several places. They need to redo the yards of many homes where soil was brought in last year, but grass seed was never planted so there is nothing but weeds.
They need to restore the yard of the house at the corner of Pepper and Grant. There is still a major piece of road construction on Pepper Street itself, but at least they finally started work on it today (July 5th).
With all these obvious areas of work, Grasso needs three, four or five teams of workers on site, up and down the length of the project, every single day. Grasso’s commitment to complete the road last year meant that they estimated it would take four months to finish. We are now less than five weeks away from the one-year anniversary of that pledge.
Since it appears that the town cannot force the Grasso Company to devote the resources necessary to complete the project in a reasonable amount of time, what can be done? I believe that the town needs to shed a bright light on the situation.
I think that going forward there should be no more Town Council Executive Sessions when discussing this project. Everything needs to be discussed in the open so that the public and the media can understand what is taking place.
I would like to see the town hold a public information meeting and invite the Grasso Company to come and present their side of the issue and take questions from Monroe citizens.
The First Selectman should hold a press conference within the project area and invite all local and state media. The Grasso Company should also be invited to attend. The press conference could conclude with a walking tour of the project.
Maybe the public focus will convince Grasso to pick up the pace of construction, or at least the public will understand why they are unable to do so.
The citizens of Monroe deserve some answers and even more than that, they deserve a contractor that will now live up to the commitment to complete this project at long last.
As an elected member of the Monroe Board of Finance (BoF), it is important that anyone reading this letter understands that all the above comments are mine alone and they are not intended to represent the Board or any other member(s).
All respectful comments with the commenter’s first and last name are welcome.