FLINT, MI — A company contracted to restore the lawns of homes after they’ve been checked for lead service lines says the city isn’t fulfilling its agreements.
Martha Brown Custom Builders was contracted for $2 million to inspect service lines with a hdyrovac and to restore lawns where they find copper lines. Last week, owner Martha Brown was told her company can restore only the 910 lawn where they used a hydrovac.
So far, the city has given her company a list of 230 homes to begin work.
Other addresses will be released as they are inspected by street maintenance, city spokesperson, Candice Mushatt, said.
“She (Martha Brown) is only contracted to restore copper to copper lines identified in her hydrovac contract,” Mushatt said.
But Brown says that’s not how she’s interpreted the agreements in her contract.
“I’m not OK with that because my contract says I’m supposed to do all the restoration on copper to copper lines found,” Brown said. “Restoration on copper lines should go to Martha Brown Custom Builders, but they’ve given the work to someone else.”
Goyette Mechanical, one of the five companies contracted to do service line replacement work, was awarded $11.6 million to restore the remaining addresses in early fall. This is in addition to their $6 million service line replacement contract.
“We’ve touched at least 1,500 addresses,” said Joe Parks, project manager for Goyette. “The city gives us a list of the homes they want us to restore, they’re all homes service line replacement contractors have worked at.”
Brown said Goyette’s contract conflicts with hers and she’s concerned her contract won’t be fulfilled.
“If the project was stopped altogether, then that’s one thing, but the work was done and the work is being done. It’s just that they chose to do give it to another contractor,” Brown said.
So far, Brown has billed the city $400,000 for the hydrovac and temporary restoration work her company has done. She expects the city to pay the difference in her contract and if it’s not paid she will file a lawsuit.
“Then a judge will have to decide,” Brown said. “At this point, this is the city’s responsibility, I want to make sure they’ll fulfill the contract and it’s done right.”
Brown said this is the second change that’s been made to her contract. The first change occurred when her company was ordered to stop inspecting lines with a hydrovac truck.
In June, Mayor Karen Weaver banned the use of hydrovacing after expressing concern at a Flint Water Inter-agency Coordinating Committee meeting that hydrovacing might miss spliced lines.
A spliced line is a lead or steel pipe that leaked and was patched using a “copper band-aid.” According to the city, the only way to be sure a spliced line isn’t missed is by digging 8- to 10-foot wide holes uncovering the pipe.
Parks said as the weather gets colder, restoration efforts will slow down as well.
“It’s really dependent on when the asphalt plants close, which is usually around Nov. 15,” Parks said. “Then we can usually do a couple of more weeks for concrete work, but when that plant closes, then we have period of time where we can only do soft-surface work.”
Hard-surface work is done where streets, sidewalks or curbs have been dug up to replace service lines. Soft-surface work is done primarily where copper is found and involves any grassy areas in a lawn.
“There are certain things that are impossible to do once the ground’s frozen,” Parks said. “You can’t do seeding because the seeds aren’t able to penetrate the soil and concrete doesn’t cure as fast in the cold.”
Brown said she doesn’t expect her company to complete restoration at all 910 homes at the rate the city has been giving her addresses.
“Hopefully, they can get it together and send me the full list,” Brown said. “At this point, I’m just trying to set up meetings with the city to try and see why things are going the way they are.”