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Town Hires Memphis Contractor for Brush Removal

The entire estimated cost, before possible FEMA reimbursement and including compliance monitoring, is $1,476,190.

Avon's Town Council voted unanimously, in a joint meeting with the Board of Finance Wednesday, to authorize Town Manager Brandon Robertson to award the contract for pre-Halloween snowstorm emergency brush removal to Michael's Tree and Loader Service, of Memphis, TN.

The estimated total is $1,476,190, combining the estimated cost of $1,362,900, including a 5 percent contingency, to remove possibly 100,000 cubic yards of tree debris and an estimated $113,290 in compliance monitoring to ensure the job is being done correctly. The town will be charged for each cubic yard collected, roughly $12.98 per cubic yard, in each 60-yard truck. That is before the town files the expenses with Federal Emergency Management Agency to seek up to 75 percent reimbursement for disaster relief.

Steve Bartha, assistant to the town manager, said that the target start date is Monday.

As part of compliance monitoring, required by FEMA, the town will pay supervisers to follow the 10 or so tree service trucks to ensure they are only picking up eligible debris on public town roads in Avon and to confirm the truckloads of debris are at full capacity. Public Works Director Bruce Williams will supervise the process during the week, assisted primarily by members of the Avon Volunteer Fire Department, who will be paid hourly as temporary employees. Public works staff will help on the weekends, outside of their regular work hours.

The trucks will bring the debris to the former MH Rhodes site on Thompson Road to grind the brush into chips and mulch. The location, which is fairly removed from other buildings, was selected bearing in mind the noise of grinding tree debris.

Thompson Brook School is located down the road. Superintendent Gary Mala has been informed that there could be more traffic in the morning when the school buses are traveling because of the trucks circulating town roads during the brush removal process.

The council recommended Michael's as a contractor instead of the contractor the state is utilizing as part of its debris management program to clear the debris left on the curbside of properties on or abutting state-maintained roads like Routes 10, 44, 177 and 202 in Avon. The Board of Finance agreed and the council authorized Robertson to officially award the contract to Michael's, which was chosen as the lowest bidder over nine other bidding contractors. Avon saved an estimated $577,237 by not selecting state's contractor to clear the public town roads, as well, Bartha confirmed.

The brush removal process should take about 20 consecutive days, town officials confirmed, amounting to 50 truckload per day between 6:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The intense 87.5-hour week is necessary, Williams said, due to the impending snow as winter rapidly approaches.

Residents should move all debris to the curbside and will have until Nov. 21 to do so. Debris can not exceed 20 feet and cannot weigh in over 9,000 pounds

While the clean-up of private roads would not be eligible for FEMA reimbursement, Councilman William Shea II (D), who will continue to serve on the council until Christopher May (R) starts his term in January, was adamant that the council look into ways of helping residents living on private roads.

“I want to have a good, solid response for anyone who lives in Avon,” said Shea.

Competing bidder Ceres Environmental Services, Inc. was also in attendance at the special meeting in order to remind the council that FEMA has deemed it acceptable for towns to award bids to more than one contractor on a line item basis. Williams responded saying that town chose not to split the project up and instead focused on the bottom line, noting that Ceres would have charged $571,844 more than Michael's for the entire process.

As of noon Thursday there are 12 customers without power, .14 percent of town, according to the CL&P outage map.

“We know where they're at and there's very specific reasons this is happening, whether it's equipment that needs to be ordered or specialized expertise," Robertson said. "We can target communication to those areas. It should be fixed very quickly.”

Chairman Mark Zacchio (R) urged the council to make contact with these individuals.

“I want to make sure we're targeting these people who don't have power. Make sure they know what's going on, what to expect; if we have to get trucks out there and talk to them, so be it," Zacchio said. "I don't want another day to go by without getting to them. I don't want to forget about them.”

Ian Charles November 10, 2011 at 09:35 PM
So let me get this straight - FEMA reimburses 75%. At a time with high unemployment and a need to spur local economic growth, we engaged a group from TN instead of a local tree removal service?!?!?!? Are you kidding me?? I noticed we saved 500k not using the state's provider, but what was the lowest bid from a provider based in the Valley? Even if it was $400k higher, with a 75% FEMA reimbursement, our town would have paid 100k more to have 1.8M pushed into our local economy, employees, service providers, etc. What another example of failed leadership. Ian - Another Upset Avon Resident
Mark Zacchio November 10, 2011 at 11:38 PM
Ian - the lowest bid (they are public information) of a local company was 600K+ and was not a firm we felt had reference or scale to handle our job. The next local bids were + 1.3m, +1.6m, and 1.7m. Although it would be nice to keep the dollars local, it was not plausible. Further, we did keep all of the FEMA Compliance dollars here (Avon will be running all compliance monitoring) with DPW/Town staff on an overtime basis, and with temporary local employees. All of these facts are available at Town Hall should you like to review them. Even with a 75% reimbursement it is not the practice of the town leadership to spend the tax payers money unwisely. The Council and Board of Finance who attended the meeting and took action after a long discussion and Q&A were unanimous after reviewing these facts. If you'd like to discuss this further the Town Manager is available to answer your questions at town hall during regular business hours. Mark -
Ian Charles November 11, 2011 at 12:29 AM
So just to be clear, the local firm did not have "reference or scale" but we were able to properly vet a firm based in TN while town leadership was focused on getting us all power and the roads cleared for school buses?? Call me a skeptic. Make sure the good folks down in TN send us a thank you card for the jobs. Ian
Mark Zacchio November 11, 2011 at 12:44 AM
That's correct Ian, skeptical or not. The firm we contracted with has large scale disaster experience and references that were checked with communities they worked in - even while we performed all of the referenced tasks above and far more. It also happens to be the same firm that Farmington contracted with and also vetted. Mark
concerned November 11, 2011 at 12:52 AM
Questions concerning the cleanup of the debris from the recent rare winter storm. Why are Canton and Avon hiring contractors (from out of town) to remove the fallen tree/limbs? What is the job of the DPW? Never realized we hired those folks to supervise others cleaning up after a disaster. Aren’t they responsible for this type of cleanup? Isn’t that what our tax dollars are paying for? They receive a salary, so perhaps they may need to work some overtime hours to complete the mission, you know, use that “rainy day” funds both towns budgeted. What is going on? So glad all the incumbents were voted back in, can’t wait to see the new mill rates next year.
bruceb5000 November 11, 2011 at 01:52 AM
To receive asst from the Fed Govt the Town needed to get competitive bids. If the best bid came from out of state perhaps that is indicative of the cost of doing business in CT.
Bill Hooper November 11, 2011 at 02:33 AM
Mark - Need me to explain again why I just wanted to take a little time off and not run in this election? I think we should double your pay. :-) Ian - My estimate is that more than 50% of this contract will be spent locally. Subcontractors, motels, restaurants, and hired local help. (again, just my estimate) Concerned - We do not have the equipment to do this job and even if we did our landfill would reach capacity and cost us $2,000,000 to "cap" it. Have you driven all the roads in town? Our DPW employees would be clearing this up until next July! ( ok perhaps a little exaggeration on my part however, it was too much for us.) At this point and if FEMA comes through this will not affect your mill rate. Finally, both current and FUTURE members of the TC , BOF and town management asked good questions and in my opinion moved swiftly and appropriately. Bill Hooper
Dianne Rechel November 11, 2011 at 02:35 AM
People- make sure that you know what you are talking about. Take a trip to West Hartford and see the scale of the operation there. The type of equipment needed for this staggering clean-up does not even exist in Connecticut, plain and simple.That's why. We haven't had a clean-up like this before and it is specilaized work best left to the crews that deal with disaster work around the country. They clean up after Katrina and Joplin. No local DPW has that type of equipment or know-how. The monitoring using DPW salaries will be expensive. Other towns contract with a monitoring service.
concerned November 11, 2011 at 02:57 AM
Really, no equipment in connecticut to clean up fallen trees? A state that thrives in the fall foliage season from tourist visiting to see our beautiful trees. Wow, that's pretty sad considering we are one of the richest states in the nations. So explain to me again, what is the DPW's job? Why bother having such a department?
Bill Hooper November 11, 2011 at 03:41 AM
Concerned- Yup, 10 trees, we have that covered. 2,875 trees not so much. How about answering my question before asking me another. If I am correct you are concerned about taxes going up but want us to spend tax money on equipment we will use perhaps once every 20 years. If I may ask, how have you contributed to the betterment of this town over the last 2 weeks? Been out there with the good old chain saw helping neighbors like many of us? Perhaps you are a local contractor concerned that you did not get the contract?

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