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Immediate attention

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By Optic Editorial Board

City officials have every right to be upset over renovation efforts at a public housing project in West Las Vegas — it appears that the contractor, Nambe Construction of Santa Fe, has made a mess of things. And if the company doesn’t act fast to correct the situation, the city will be justified in terminating the contract and looking for someone else to finish the job.

The project at Church Street and New Mexico Avenue is intended to dress up, for better “curb appeal,” several duplexes owned by the city and largely occupied by senior citizens. But work has apparently been delayed because, according to city Housing Director Robert Pacheco, Nambe hasn’t applied for the necessary work permits. Nevertheless the work started anyway, and now residents are having to deal with torn-out sidewalks, bricks removed from the front of the duplexes, windows now covered in plastic, and piles of all these discarded materials nearby.

It’s more than an unsightly inconvenience. It’s a safety hazard, and the residents who live there deserve better. Pacheco blamed the situation, in part, on a lack of oversight on the part of Nambe. He recounted to the Housing Authority Board last week an incident in which the contractor dropped off a crew and then headed to Raton for another project.

No one from Nambe was at the housing meeting last week, but Pacheco said Nambe is alleging that the city engineer said no permits were needed for the project, something the city engineer denies. Frankly, it’s hard to believe the engineer would say such a thing, but if he did, the city itself is partly to blame for this mess.

And there are other problems, including one of the subcontractors not being licensed to do the work he was hired for. Reportedly, Nambe is planning to hire him as an employee so he can do the work under the company’s license, but that’s still something that should have been resolved earlier.

City Attorney Dave Romero said terminating the contract with Nambe has been considered but city administrators decided it would be best not to do so unless necessary. We understand the thinking, but if Nambe doesn’t respond quickly and decisively to the problems at hand, such a move may indeed be necessary.

Those who must bear the burden of such shoddy work are the residents who live there, and they deserve better. We say fix the problem now, or get another contractor to finish the job.