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BET OKs $3.1 Million to Fix Hurricane-Ravaged Parks

Greenwich Parks & Rec Department wanted money approved so work can start by March 1 and parks can be ready for 2013 beach season.

 

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, Greenwich Parks & Recreation Director Joseph Siciliano is playing a round of 'race the clock.' And Monday night, he passed the first hurdle.

The Board of Estimate and Taxation granted a conditional approval to release $3.1 million—the estimated tally to clean up and fix the damage caused by an unrelenting Hurricane Sandy that unleashed 80 mph winds, and pounding surf along the East Coast. On Oct. 29 and into Oct. 30, Greenwich's premier waterfront parks and island beaches were ravaged by Mother Nature.

The pounding surf scoured sand from the beaches, eroded roadways and walking paths, uprooted trees and native seaside plantings, decimated sand dunes, ripped docks from their pilings, washed in stone and concrete block walls of beach outbuildings at Greenwich Point and Byram Park.

For about two weeks, Roberge Associates Coastal Engineers (RACE) of Stratford, inspected, analyzed and computed material and manpower costs to make the repairs, most of which the town expects to receive reimbursements from insurance policies and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), officials said at the meeting held Monday night at Greenwich Town Hall.

The BET's vote Monday night insures the town will be able to have engineering reports and permits approved to begin work around March 1—if the Representative Town Meeting approves the allocation at its Jan. 22 meeting, Siciliano and BET members said. Siciliano expressed concern that Greenwich faces competition from communities in New Jersey, New York and Long Island for a limited number of marine or off-shore contractors able to rebuild docks and other island facilities.

The BET placed a condition on the approvals—the money will be released once Siciliano has received bids for the work.

"My only effort is to come out and get in front of the curve to get some of these contractors secured, especially the off-shore contractors," Siciliano said. He said if RACE is forced to wait until after the RTM's January meeting, the town could lose out on attracting contractors. He said several private waterfront clubs already have hired contractors "because they don't have to go through the budgetary process we do."

Siciliano said he expects off-shore contractors will have 6-day work weeks in order to ready Island Beach and Great Captain's Island for the June start of the beach season.

The damage estimates include:

  • Greenwich Point: $844,750
  • Grass Island $91,700
  • Island Beach: 1,307,100
  • Great Captain's Island: $674,600
  • Byram Park Marina: $163,600.

For an itemized breakdown of the repair costs for the damages, please see the attached PDF. (The parks information begins on Page 28.)

The total damage tally is not known as overtime and personnel costs from the Greenwich Police Department, the Greenwich Fire Department and the Department of Public Works, among others, have not been submitted, said BET Vice Chair Joseph Pellegrino. However, he estimated the final cost could be between $5 and $6 million—including about $1 million in trees lost or damaged by the storm.

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