Council elects officers and approves dredging study contract

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The board discusses the award of a contract to an engineering firm at its reorganization meeting.

By MADDY VITALE

City council on Thursday elected the leaders of the governing body, maintaining the status quo with President Bob Barr and Vice President Michael DeVlieger in the same year-long positions they held the previous year.

The nominations, however, were not unanimous at the annual Board reorganization meeting.

Councilor Pete Madden has moved that Councilor Karen Bergman be elected president. When that failed, he proposed that she chair the Council as vice-chair. This motion also failed.

In other areas, Madden asked to add a resolution to the agenda. The resolution was for a professional services contract for ACT Engineers Inc., a consulting firm in Robbinsville, NJ, to conduct a bathymetric survey of the stern bays to determine the amount of silt accumulated and the depth of the water.

Council approved the addition of the resolution to the agenda after a discussion of how non-tender contracts have been awarded to ACT over the years for a multitude of dredging projects.

Barr cast the only dissenting vote on hiring ACT.

The resolution notes that ACT has done this type of work in the past and “was determined to have the expertise to provide these services.” Work is to be done in various city lagoons in the contract for $ 67,500.

According to a note from ACT Vice President Eric Rosina, the bathymetric survey will take place between Blue Water Marina and North Point Lagoon. The company will examine the accumulation of sediment in the lagoons and canals, including the siltation areas.

This is a precursor before the city embarks on its bay maintenance dredging program starting in the fall.

Snug Harbor, a lagoon off Bay Avenue between Eighth and Ninth Streets, is an area that is dredged as part of the town’s maintenance program.

Ahead of the vote, board members raised concerns about contracts awarded to ACT over the years without soliciting bids from other engineering firms to solicit potentially better prices.

Barr and DeVlieger have openly expressed how they believe ACT received contracts without a tendering process conducted by Mayor Jay Gillian’s administration to solicit formal proposals from other companies for the work.

“I don’t want to hurt anyone. We are the only city in this county to do it that way. I have been asking for five months to do things a certain way, with Mr DeVlieger, on behalf of the majority of the Council, ”Barr said. “I spoke to three engineers this week. I cannot in good conscience support this, but I am glad that there are enough people to support this.

DeVlieger said he didn’t think “there’s a single person here who doesn’t want this dredging to take place.”

He said, however: “The issue is how the administration conducted this. We discussed that we wanted things to get done because we felt there was no way to let others get involved. The appearance was bad and we had many complaints.

A crowd of people in the audience were home owners, boaters and business owners who recently expressed concerns about the need to continue dredging and wanted Council to allow ACT to continue. project or have another company on board to start. soon.

ACT Engineers has overseen projects to remove silt from waterlogged sediment streams.

City Councilor Jody Levchuk read a statement on ACT and noted that the governing body wants the dredging to be done, but at the best price through a tendering process.

“I fully support and support our dredging needs. I have no problem with ACT engineering, ”said Levchuk. “The city council fully understands the need to do this work. I fully understand that this must be done. We have worked hard to make sure we do our job. I will move yes today.

Levchuk added that he hopes that at the next council meeting more information will be provided by the city administration regarding the steps taken to solicit proposals from other suppliers for the dredging works.

Resident George Robinson, a boater and owner of a Somers Point boat business, had initially registered to speak at the meeting on Thursday.

However, when his name was called, he spoke on behalf of those who were seated with him in the audience.

“We are good on the basis of the resolution,” said Robinson, while supporting the board’s decision to hire ACT.

City Councilor Tom Rotondi made it clear to the public that he represents all residents, not just certain groups of people. He added that he is looking for what is in the best interests of everyone, not just some taxpayers.

“I represent the people who own the boat slips and the people who have beautiful homes on the bay, but I also represent the fixed income taxpayer. I am not here to represent a group, (or) a particular supplier, ”said Rotondi.

Carnival Bayou, one of the waterways choked by sediment, is one of the lagoons dredged in recent years.

For months, Madden kept telling Council meetings that ACT has a proven track record of doing a good job for the city. He reiterated his support for ACT on Thursday.

“So for about six years ACT oversaw the operations and made sure the dredging was done and everything went smoothly and cleanly,” Madden said. “Advice is a brake and a counterweight to the administration. At the end of the day, we’re there to ensure control and balance, not to dictate what gets done or to get ourselves into an emotional battle. I am happy to see ACT moving forward.

Bergman, who like Madden has supported the administration’s desire to continue with ACT for the city’s dredging work, said, “I’m happy to push this through and I think it’s a long time coming. ACT has already started this project. I’m really happy to get things done and thank the administration for getting things done.

Although City Councilor Keith Hartzell has been a proponent of the idea of ​​offering engineering contracts to get the city the best price, he noted that it is important that the dredging program restart.

“Tourism is our cornerstone and this has to move forward,” Hartzell said.

Only a few people from the public spoke at the town hall meeting or via Zoom.

Resident Dave Beyel said of the actions taken by the Council: “I want to thank the officials for the common sense they have here to understand right from wrong. “

Residents, including boaters and bay landowners, were among the audience members.


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