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[UPDATED] Debris Pick-Up To Begin Soon

Southington has monitoring company in place and will finalize a contract with a debris cleanup crew Friday in hopes that with approval of FEMA assistance, roadside pick-up could begin next week.

Updated Story
Presiden Barack Obama has signed the declaration for Connecticut, which will provide a 75 percent funding reimbursement.

Town manager Garry Brumback said in a phone message Friday morning that the town is looking to finalize a schedule by the end of the day and begin debris cleanup soon. Further details could be released later today.

Original Story
The town has still not received any official decision from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on whether they will receive funding, but that hasn’t stopped Garry Brumback from moving forward in preparing to begin a roadside debris pick-up to help finish storm recovery.

Brumback said Thursday that the estimated costs for the project are estimate in the range of $1 million, with about 50,000 cubic yards of debris left behind following the rare October Nor’Easter.

The town is prepared to move forward with cleanup, but Brumback said the first step is to be sure that the emergency declaration for the state, which would provide a 75 percent reimbursement from FEMA for all storm-related costs.

“In good conscience, we can’t escalate the efforts until the declaration is signed unless there is a public groundswell that says ‘we don’t care if it costs $1 million’,” Brumback said. “We have laid the groundwork and we are ready to go.”

Earlier this month, the Southington Town Council approved an emergency motion allowing Brumback to begin negotiations in finding a monitoring company and clean-up company to conduct the debris cleanup. The cleanup would include several weeks of roadside pick-up to help clear damaged tress limbs and other materials left behind following the storm.

True North, a response management group with the Neel-Schaeffer organization of Texas, has already been hired to conduct the efforts. Brumback said the town would sign a contract for the physical work with one of two finalists who were interviewed on Thursday in the near future.

Town officials said although the costs may seem high, it could have been much worse.

“I went to West Hartford and it seemed almost as if they had no plan at all, as far as I was concerned,” said Board of Finance member Edward Pocock Jr. “We are in a good position here and we have been able to save money with the due diligence of our staff.”

West Hartford officials announced this week that they had decided to move forward with a cleanup project of their own – one which is estimated to cost about $7 million.

Brumback said when the town was first analyzing after the storm, it appeared initial costs for the debris cleanup alone could have reached as much as $6 million in Southington, with up to 100,000 cubic yards of debris that needed removal.

Further assessment revealed less damage than initially though, however, with the estimated debris being reduced to 50,000 cubic yards. Residents have also taken a proactive role in efforts, already bringing about 15,000 cubic yards through countless vehicle loads to the Bulky Waste Transfer Station, further reducing the debris cleanup needs.

By going out to bid, officials said the town is also saving considerable money and has reduced costs from $21 per cubic yard – the cost if the town had gone through the state – to just $8 per cubic yard.

The goal, with a plan now in place, is to begin work immediately once the declaration is signed. Legislators said the declaration “is imminent and could be completed by very early next week.”

In the meantime, Brumback said the town would continue to keep the Bulky Waste Transfer Station on old Turnpike Road open for debris drop-off. The station will be open Monday through Wednesday next week from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but will be closed for the holiday weekend.

Harrison J. Reed Sr. November 18, 2011 at 11:30 AM
I'm no spring chicken but I already took loads and loads [and loads] of debris to the transfer station over a week ago; job done. I just hope that they get this moving before all this stuff is frozen at the roadside under snow and ice until April. It's a road hazard, an eyesore, and gonna attract rats and other critters. I personally think this would have been put to bed much sooner had the Town not got this idea of emergency funds and roadside pickup. Admittedly, there are those without a truck, the old or infirm, or those just plain lazy, but they should get someone to haul it away as a cost of home ownership. I hope this clean up project gets going because, left to their own devices, I think the citizens would have mostly had this done by now on their own. Thank you and have nice day.
Fred Burnham November 18, 2011 at 11:32 AM
I'm concerned from a government-level is the disparities in the cost of clean up. I'd love to see some figures as to how we went from an estimate of $6M for 100k cy to $1M for 50k. And why is West Hartford now 7x our amount and they are going ahead without funding? Why is Obama taking so long in approving this "disaster clean-up"? Would it be better for our Governor to be here in Connecticut working through this problem rather than visiting the troops in Iraq? And a big question in my mind is how on earth did we come up with a Texas company to do the work? How much bid-rigging was involved? Nobody could do this job in Connecticut to stimulate our economy? Is this one of Bumback's good ol' boy friends from down that way or family or something? That's a coincidence that needs some critical, impartial evaluation if you ask me.
Jason Vallee (Editor) November 18, 2011 at 02:31 PM
I think I need to clarify the management company and change in numbers. As stated above, the town suspected certain levels of damage, but they couldn't do an official assessment before all roads were cleared and power restored. It takes some time for things to be reported so those numbers were fortunately reduced. The costs were also reduced because the state allowed the town to bid out after the town contacted the state about debris removal. As a result, the move allowed the change in costs from $21 per cubic yard to $8 per cubic yard for the lowest bidders, further reducing costs. The management company selected was done through legal bidding, but also required a contractor whose met national criteria to be eligible for the reimbursement. True North is a national company with locations in a states, but the parent company is based in Texas. It is not unusual for cleanup to be done by out of state crews. In West Hartford, where cleanup is being done, a Florida company is being used to conduct the work. The company could subcontract out, but there also aren't that many in state options because CT doesn't have a market for long-term major debris cleanup work. There was no indication of impartial bidding. The town went through a thorough process to make sure they are eligible for reimbursement and had in place someone to do the job in an expedited but cost effective manner.
Chris Ingellis November 21, 2011 at 11:50 PM
To bad we couldn't support our local companies. There are plenty of tree service and larger maintenance companies around in the area, that even though may not advertise for major debris cleanup work, probably would have loved the business. Not to mention it supports our local economy

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