Flint City Council votes to move forward and complete lead pipe replacement program

For weeks, city leaders couldn’t reach an agreement to fix the 500 remaining lead-tainted water lines
Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 10:40 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (04/14/2021) - Flint’s pipe replacement project is back on.

On Wednesday night, City Council approved finishing the FAST Start program.

For weeks, city leaders couldn’t reach an agreement to fix the lead-remaining 500 tainted water lines. That’s more than three years after a court order requiring the work be done.

Now, however, there’s a new timeline on when the work will be completed.

State and federal dollars are helping make that happen, already digging up more than 26,000 service lines, but the project came to a sudden stop, leaving about 500 homes unchecked.

”As we approach the pinnacle piece of completing this, instead of looking at a celebration, right now we’re looking at more delays of marathon meetings, frustrating, and pettiness that we’ve been witnessing,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said.

Neeley has voiced his frustration after council postponed for more than a month approving a contract extension of no more than $500,000 with Rowe Professional Services, the company leading the project.

Neeley has accused members of council of filibustering and dragging on the resolution, but council members Eric Mays and Jerri Winfrey-Carter say they still need Rowe to answers some important questions. They emphasized the importance of vetting the project properly.

”My job is to be in a public meeting, vetting stuff. Don’t let know no politician no matter where they’re elected in a council seat or a Mayor take me away from asking about $500,000,” Mays said.

“It has to be properly vetted. This is my job. This is my job to ask questions and to get the information, so that I can make the best decision for the residents,” Winfrey-Carter added.

Mays and Winfrey-Carter were the two council members abstaining, not voting for or against the proposal.

The other six council members present voted yes, saying they’ve received phone calls from people living in the city, frustrated about the delays.

”This should’ve never happened. It’s very irresponsible for something that should’ve been done in times past,” Council Vice President Maurice Davis said.

9th Ward Council member, Eva Worthing added, “I’m going to be voting yes. We need to get this done. There’s no reason that we should not continue.”

Rowe Professional Services told City Council on Wednesday night they plan on completing the lead replacement project by this summer in either June or July.

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