A contractor accused of inconveniencing and endangering North Side residents with its slow and slipshod water main replacement work has apologized to aldermen and agreed to speed up the work.
The private apology from NPL Construction was enough to convince Housing Committee Chairman Joe Moore (49th) to cancel plans to hold a public hearing on the issue during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled committee meeting.
“I accomplished what I set out to do: to give them a huge wake up-call. Since then, they’ve been bending over backwards and being apologetic,” Moore said, referring to a Chicago Sun-Times story last week that aired his laundry list of complaints against NPL.
Last week, Moore accused NPL of opening up Touhy Avenue and failing to seal it properly, leaving “huge divots.”
On Tuesday, he was singing a different tune about the work NPL is doing to replace North Side water mains from Addison to the city limits, under terms of a $92 million contract awarded last year.
“They’re beginning to complete the work left undone for several weeks. We met with them for about an hour yesterday to go over the plan. We got a schedule of estimated completion dates. There’s really no reason to go forward,” he said.
Moore applauded Chief Procurement Officer Jamie Rhee and newly-appointed Water Management Commissioner Randy Conner for backstopping aldermen by summoning NPL to a meeting to “read them the riot act.”
The chairman categorically denied receiving “pressure from anyone to not go ahead with the hearing on their shortcomings. As my wife would say, ‘It’s all about me.'”
NPL Construction is represented by attorney Mara Georges, who served as longtime corporation counsel under former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Georges confirmed Moore’s version of the behind-the-scenes maneuverings that followed the alderman’s public tirade.
Last week, North Side Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) accused NPL of turning Wilson Avenue, Lincoln Avenue and Clark Street into a dangerous “dust bowl” that has forced bicyclists and pedestrians to wear “handkerchiefs around their mouths so they don’t inhale the dust.”
On Tuesday, Pawar was asked why he went along with calling off the public hearing that would have put even more pressure on NPL.
“Joe wants to give NPL a chance to fix things before a public shaming,” Pawar wrote in a text message to the Sun-Times.