Several departments found themselves under fire during the Town Council Regular Meeting this Thursday. Dave Fauber of Public Works found himself under the tightest scrutiny, mainly due to the poor performance of the town’s ill-conceived wastewater treatment plant.
Councilman Steve Bennett hammered Fauber, asking pointedly if the manhole cover replacement project had been completed. Fauber answered that the project was indeed complete. Bennett then asked why the wastewater numbers were still so much higher than the water production numbers. It had been Fauber’s contention that the numbers were skewed due to the fact that water was leaking around the edges of manhole covers, and once the town, at taxpayer’s expense, refitted all manhole covers, that problem would be resolved. As Bennett noted, that has not been the case:
*Water: Total Production: 4,450,375 Gallons
*Waste Water: Average Flow 169,700 gpd
Total for Month 5,260,700 Gallons
Mayor George Proto was next to pile on, asking Fauber if the issue with the mixers had been resolved. Catastrophic failure of several mixing units have thrown the wastewater plant out of compliance, and have lead the DEQ to levy steep fines against the town for pouring pollutants into the bay. Fauber told the Mayor that he felt they had fixed the problem.
MAYOR: Do we know why they failed? Do we have a plan so that we don’t have to keep fixing them, so we don’t have to keep them in stock so that they exceed our limits?
FAUBER: There is a plan.
MAYOR: What is it?
FAUBER: We are pulling them out every 3 months to check them and then replace oil and put them back in. If the seal is worn and moisture is getting in, then we’ll rebuild the seal.
MAYOR: So is that what the company that makes these mixers recommends?
FAUBER: That’s what the man that helped us with the repairs, that is what he recommended.
MAYOR: That is what he is recommending? Is he an independent contractor or does he work for the company that makes the mixers?
FAUBER: That, I’m not sure.
MAYOR: Should the company that made the mixers have told us this in the first place? Then we wouldn’t be in this situation. Is there some manual somewhere that says to do this?
FAUBER: Yes, we have a maintenance manual.
MAYOR: Okay. Are there any other questions?
Opinion: No other questions? How about, did you actually read the manual? Having a manual is nice, but the important concept is the actual reading of the manual. Also, we paid some guy to come here and fix the wastewater plant, yet we don’t know whether he was an independent contractor, or works for the company that actually makes the mixers….what?
The $3.4 million dollar Community Trail project also came under scrutiny. Councilman Buchholz questioned why the construction, which has closed Peach Street, has been stalled. Given that there are handicapped people living on the street, this is a dangerous ‘inconvenience’. Project ‘coordinator’ Bob Panek answered that he did not know, and that he could not control the pace of work by the contractor.
Seemingly wary of where the project was heading, Councilman Bennett asked if Phase III, which would include the south end of Peach, was ready for design and construction, and if not, could the funds be used somewhere else in town. Panek said that it was not at the present time, and that yes, the funds could be used elsewhere. Bennett than dropped a bombshell, suggesting that Council schedule a workshop to discuss changing the plans. There has been significant push back for Phase III of trail project, due to the fact that business owners, both current and prospective have voiced concerns over traffic flow and the possible loss of parking.