Eli Ruiz | Democrat
The rubble of the old Village of Monticello Courthouse will have to be removed at considerable expense to the village.
Debris removal costs pile up
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO December 13, 2013 It’s apparently going to cost the Village of Monticello considerably more to remove the two-month-old pile of asbestos-laced debris left behind after the hasty demolition of the old Village Justice Court back in October.
Two bids to clean up the pile that has sat idle on Pleasant Street in the village since the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) abruptly halted work at the site have come in and they’re considerably higher than Mayor Gordon Jenkins’ deal with a local contractor to remove the debris for $5,000.
The two out-of-state bids one from a company called Specialty Services, and the other from DSA Services, Inc. came in Wednesday and ask for $96,000 and $186,000 respectively for the removal of the debris locals have taken to calling “Mt. Jenkins.”
Village Trustee Carmen Rue continued to criticize the mayor for his decisions.
“We had to spend $2,200 a month ago for just a variance to move forward with this process [moving the debris],” she said. “Then the mayor went and signed another contract without board approval for $7,000 just to remove the [heavy] machinery from the site. This village has no money and these bids for the cleanup are outrageous. This is plain misappropriation of taxpayer funds. If the mayor wants to make these decisions all on his own then he should take responsibility and pay for these expenses out of his own pocket… the taxpayers should sue.”
For his part, Jenkins says everything he’s done in his time as mayor was done “by the book.”
“All of these measures have been approved by the board,” said Jenkins. “Everything has passed through this board and Carmen is just making up the same old lies because she has the need to contradict my every move. She [Rue] is disrupting this board from carrying on village business. Carmen’s real issue is that she’s got friends out there that she wants in as management that she wants to use as puppets… that’s why she tried to have me removed as manager at the last meeting.”
Asked if he had any knowledge of Rue’s alleged plans to place her “friends” in managerial positions, Jenkins declined to comment.
Regarding the obvious disparity between the latest bids to clean up the debris on Pleasant Street, and the initial $5,000 bid he accepted for both the demolition of the old courthouse structure and the removal of its subsequent debris, Jenkins likewise offered no comment. Asked how he felt about the latest bids? “They’re high… very high,” said Jenkins.
Village Code Enforcement Officer James Snowden likewise found the new bids exorbitant.
“These bids are ridiculous,” said Snowden. “Right now we have presented the bids to our attorney [Dennis Lynch]. I’ll tell you, this whole thing has been blown out of proportion by people with ulterior motives. Carmen [Rue] has just made this into a frenzy and now the unions are coming in and forcing out the little guys… it’s wrong.”
Asked if the village had a “Plan B” for the safe removal of the debris, Snowden offered, “We do have an alternate plan. I’m not ready at this time to discuss the plan but we will get that pile moved.”
Village Engineer John Fuller said of the bids, “I think they are indeed high, but the pile is being seen as completely contaminated with asbestos now. Before [the demolition] it was certain components of the structure contained non-friable asbestos. With the demolition of the structure you now cannot differentiate between what is non-friable [safe] and what’s friable [unsafe] so now the entire pile is considered contaminated. It’s just a lot of money all around, but what’s more concerning to me is the disparity between these two competing bids. Usually bids are a lot closer than this.
The village is now left with two options, aside from Snowden’s “alternate plan”: 1.) Open up the project for another round of bids, or 2.) Accept the current, lower $96,000 bid from Specialty Trades.
“I don’t know which way the village is going to go on this,” said Fuller, adding, “I have to sit down with the mayor and the code enforcement officer and have that discussion… either way, though, it’s an unfortunate situation.’
Asked if the proposed youth center to be built at the site of the old courthouse would ever come to fruition, Jenkins said, “The youth center? Yes it is going to be built. My only distraction right now from the youth center and the various other projects I’ve got on tap are people like Carmen Rue. I call for Carmen to work with me and not against me.”