City Engineer and Director of Community Development Carla Easton turned in her resignation Friday after coming under fire from Paris Mayor Steve Clifford last week for her staff’s handling of a $24 million infrastructure project.
“I feel the time has come to move on,” Easton told The Paris News. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this great community for almost five years.”
City Manager Grayson Path lamented Easton’s planned Oct. 16 departure.
“It has been an absolute privilege to work with Carla,” Path said. “Although I have only worked with her since April, I have been greatly impressed with her knowledge, skill and the work product I have seen. She has done a great job for the city, and we are going to miss having her on our team.”
Clifford made no comment.
At a Monday meeting, Clifford questioned Easton about work by Oscar Renda Contracting on a $24 million utility replacement project, a part of a $45 million utility bond program approved by voters in 2013.
Clifford brought two agenda items, one dealing with delays in completing work on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and 17th Street NE and the other about an early September leak on a new water main near the corner of S. Main and Clarksville streets.
Clifford recommended the city hire a third party to review the entire Oscar Renda project, which includes sewer and/or water line replacement under city streets in many parts of the city.
“It may cost us some money, but not as much as the $24 million we may have squandered away on this project,” Clifford said as he suggested there may be other problems with the contractor’s work.
About the S. Main Street water leak, which Easton explained was caused by a piece left out inside a connection joint installed during a boring process, Clifford said the city is spending money “so we wouldn’t have these problems.”
“I want to stay on top of this, so if you have any more failures I want to know about them right away,” the mayor said.
Easton said she is “grateful for the opportunity” to be city manager and for “the support over the years.”
There are many exciting things happening here, and I’m confident that the city will continue with the progress that is underway,” she concluded. “As for me, I’m looking forward to an exciting new opportunity.”
Easton made no other mention of future plans.