Sandy Debris Collection Over, No More Pickups or Reimbursement
'No more debris that's brought out to the curb will even be considered,' said borough's public works manager.
Bernardsville Borough's curbside collection of Sandy debris by borough workers and a contractor hired specifically to collect and chip logs and brush left by last fall's storm is over, and no more debris will be picked up, the borough's public works manger reported the the borough council this week.
However, John Macdowell said earlier this week that the cost of the collection was not yet available. The job had been finished about a week earlier, with the removal of eligible tree stumps the final step, he said.
"No more debris that's brought out to the curb will even be considered," Macdowell told the Bernardsville Council this week.
The Bernardsville Council agreed late last November that the borough would collect all trees and brush destroyed in Superstorm Sandy placed at the curb on public streets, and hired a contractor, AshBritt, to do the job for about $365,000. But there were suspicions that some had been adding yard waste not produced by Sandy damage to the growing roadside woodpiles in the weeks that followed.
Soon after the actual collection began in January, officials potential cost of the removal had soared to an estimated $1.6 million or even more, causing the council to call for a halt to any additional materials being placed at the curb.
The borough is expecting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will reimburse the municipality for 75 percent or more of such cleanup costs as a result of Sandy.
No reimbursement for those who discarded their own debris before collection began
Borough Mayor Lee Honecker said on Monday he had been receiving phone calls from residents who had arranged for their own storm debris to be removed before the borough's collection was scheduled.
Honecker said he had received requests for reimbursement for $1,800 up to about $70,000 — although the homeowner later reduced the request to less than half of that.
But the Borough Council declined to pick up such requests.
"We moved 55,000 yards of material," Borough Councilman Joseph Rossi said. He said the borough had made the best of the storm clean-up.
The contractor and borough workers "did a fine job" during the collection, Rossi said. "We cannot go back and pay people for them having outside contractors," he said.
"It's unfortunate, but we cannot go back and reimburse people who acted quickly after the storm," Honecker said.
AshBritt, the contractor hired to remove logs and other wood debris from Superstorm Sandy left at the curbside on borough roads started the job on Jan. 21. The project was then expected to continue for about five or six weeks, borough officials said.
AshBritt and its subcontractors were being assisted by the borough's public works department. Borough workers cleared smaller debris from road rights-of-way in an effort to keep costs down, Honecker said soon after the collection began.