Aug. 31, 2005 V.I. Waste Management Authority board members took action Wednesday on contracts once under the purview of the Department of Public Works in order to address outstanding obligations and make the transition between the two agencies a little smoother.
The board first voted to issue Island Roads a WMA contract for the construction of a sludge pre-treatment tank at the Mangrove Lagoon treatment facility on St. Thomas. The contract was originally executed under the Department of Public Works, but expired before the construction was complete. Due to the transfer of waste management duties from DPW to WMA, a new contract has to be drafted in order for the construction to continue. WMA officials said that while the new contract for $800,700 will expire in May 2006, the tank is expected to be finished by October of this year.
Energy Answers of Puerto Rico was also previously contracted by DPW to operate the three large pump stations on St. Croix. As WMA was just in its formative stages when the initial contract between the board and Energy Answers was drafted, the Authority could not determine the costs of such services at the time. However, Wednesday the board approved a payment in excess of $400,000 to the company, for services rendered and not yet paid for.
After going into executive session, the board announced that amendments were also made on a contract issued on behalf of the board to Washington-based consulting firm Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio, and Associates. The first amendment stipulated that payments be made to the company for services rendered outside the scope of their original contract with the Authority. Although the company was originally hired by the board to help WMA develop its overall structure, they were also contracted to plan a retreat for WMA staff to learn about their organization. Additionally, the firm aided the board in procuring an executive director for the Authority. Payment for these services totals $82,000.
Another amendment approved by the board allows local contractors to contribute to public relations/education projects being undertaken by WMA. While the consulting firm will continue to do the framework for such endeavors, board members voted that any relative work that can be done by local subcontractors on projects should remain within the territory.
WMA Executive Director May Adams Cornwall addressed issues regarding tire disposals between the two districts. Although WMA has been actively meeting with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Coastal Zone Management, and Fire services in order to find a definitive solution for tire dumping, Cornwall indicated that no plans have been finalized.
Cornwall also stated that A-9 Trucking, contracted by WMA to operate the tire shredder on St. Thomas, is still experiencing problems in obtaining various permits from DPNR, despite efforts made to jumpstart the process. With the proper shredding and disposal of these tires, Cornwall said that not only could one of the links to the dengue virus be eliminated, but crumbled tires could be used in the creation of roads.
However, progress has been made regarding the closing of the Anguilla landfill in St. Croix, as WMA recently collected all proposals for companies bidding to operate and prepare the site for closure. As soon as a contract is signed, the Authority will turn to local residents for help in deciding what technologies would be implemented for trash disposal. Called citizen advisory committees, these groups will be part of the WMA decision-making process and will exist on all three islands. "The meetings recently held to inform citizens about these committees went very well," Cornwall said. "Right now we have about 55 applicants." The decision as to who will sit on these committees will be made by WMA officials in September.
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