Williams Delight residents have been promised road improvements for more than 30 years. Now that the project has actually started, funding issues and the continued flooding of homes caused tension to erupt at a meeting held at the community's multi-purpose center.
Public Works Assistant Commissioner Roberto Cintron fielded questions from irritated residents who questioned everything from the scope and cost of the project to whether the improvements would actually stop the constant flooding of their home when it rains. Cintron was named to his new position by Gov. John de Jongh in July. He was formerly the department's director of engineering.
The improvements are in two parts, Cintron explained. The drainage portion is estimated at $2 million and is scheduled to be completed by September, according to Cintron. The road improvement, including curbs, gutters, sidewalks and paving is estimated at $5 million. Public Works has received all the funds for the drainage however only $1.36 million for the roads has been received by the department.
Cintron was unsure if the entire $5 million had actually been appropriated by the Legislature and the Office of Management and Budget need to release the balance or if the department needed to request additional funding from the Senate to complete the road portion.
Several senators who were at the meeting tried to bring some clarity to the issue. Senate Finance Committee chairman Terrance Nelson posed some additional questions to Cintron about the availability of the funds. Nelson said additional funds could be appropriated during a special session or if a senator submits a bill request.
Sen. James Weber III said he recalled previous meetings where the funds were discussed. "The anticipation was that Public Works would come back (to the Senate) for additional money," Weber said. "It's not in (Public Works) budget." He added, "It's up to the majority to agree to give the additional money."
Sen. Juan Figueroa-Serville pointed out the price of the project is rising every day. "Engineers have based the cost on estimates, but adjustments have to be made," he said. Cintron agreed, saying at this time $4.5 million is needed to complete the road project, bringing the total cost to $5.8 million.
Cintron asked residents to be patient because the government had to step in to fix problems that were the responsibility of the developer. "Its the developer's responsibility to install drainage," he said. "I cannot go back in time. That was over years ago. I am not going into the past."
Representatives of Sens. Usie Richards and Neville James also attended the meeting.
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