Odessa City Council in a Sticky Situation With Their Seal Coat Project

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--The 2010 contract was awarded to a company who performed a similar project last June, that resulted in dozens of cars coated in tar and asphalt.

The lucky winner of the seal coat contract is not a local company, in fact their home office is located in Kendalia, Texas, north of San Antonio.

With a 3-2 vote, the reason for giving them the contract was the only thing council members could agree on.

"There were only three bids on the project and the award was solely on low bid," District 5 council member, Benjamin Velasquez, explained.

Velasquez was one of the two votes against awarding the seal coat project to Ronald W. Wagner & Co.

With the end result of last June's project still in mind, he just couldn't bring himself to vote in favor of the same company again.

"I questioned them as to what, specifically, was the problem.  They were unable to identify one specific item that was going to change that would remedy the situation.  That, in my opinion, says we should not award the contract to that same contractor," Velasquez said.

District 2 council member Dr. James Goates said the council was obligated to make that decision by laws that protect the city and the company.  Research must be done to determine whether it was a good or bad company.

According to Goates, "They've done work for the City of Odessa other times.  Last year, they did have a problem.  It was a bad problem but they took care of it.  People were taken care of and they redid the streets, so it was fine."

With three other companies bidding for the job, council members did have other options, including post-postponing the project all together.

"There's a certain amount of time you want to get seal coating done.  You want to get it done during the summer, when it's hot.  If you don't do it during that time, then the seal coating doesn't work as well. We're pressured by a little bit of time," Goates explained.

Ronald W. Wagner & Co., has not come right out and admitted any fault in what happened, but through their insurance company, did reimburse car owners for the damage they suffered. 
    
They have also told council members they are going to switch asphalt manufacturers, but not everyone is sold on the idea.

"They couldn't identify the problem so there is no way we can guarantee that it won't happen again,"  Velasquez said.

"It could happen to anybody.  Seal coating is not a perfect science," Goates said.

NewsWest 9 called Ronald W. Wagner & Co, who confirmed having been awarded the contract.  When asked about last year's problem and what steps they were taking to keep it from happening again, they said they had no comment one way or the other.