Committee gets answers

It started with paving and ended with garbage for Department of Public Works Director Tony Gugino when he was questioned during a meeting Monday by members of Common Council’s Public Works Committee.

Gugino began with an update on the city’s hot-in-place paving project, saying contractors are moving equipment into the city and hoping for a Wednesday start.

“We’ll be paving Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; hopefully get done by Friday, weather permitting. If not we’ll carry over until the streets that were awarded in the contract are done, but this is the week,” Gugino stated, adding the work will be done with $133,500 of CHIPS money that council recently approved.

In response to a question from Councilwoman Stacy Szukala, Gugino said a Fourth Ward drainage she has been inquiring about has not been scheduled. He explained sign replacement and getting the streets ready for the hot-in-place were being done.

With the last scheduled brush pickup completed, Gugino said leaf pickup is coming and told Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak that it is advertised.

“I try to wait until I get at least three-quarters of the leaves down on the ground. You make one concerted effort, save a lot of money and time and resources,” Gugino stated. “But we always let people know when we’re starting, usually a week ahead of time.”

Gugino said during his first few years leaves were picked up three or four times, “which was ridiculous.”

“So now, we just do basically one full sweep through the city, that’s the goal. We use every guy we have available. A lot of times you’ll notice we even have the garbage packer trucks out just to pick up bagged leaves. … Then you have the normal crews,” he explained. “We do it that way once and you can pretty much take care of the city in one shot, one pass through the city.”

In response to a question from Councilman Adelino Gonzalez, Gugino said he was in a meeting on the seawall recently.

“I wanted to get together with the engineers and see the status of their design work and how they were doing. They’ve got it pretty much ready to go to bid. The goal is to get it out to bid by the end of this year,” Gugino explained, adding the engineers request to delay the bidding until early 2014 was denied. “The city would prefer to have this thing out to bid so that we can start construction next year. I don’t want to drag our feet. I want to get it done.”

Gugino added the Army Corps of Engineers will review the design submitted by Nussbaumer and Clarke.

“It’s actually going to be a new permit because the design’s changed. …. They have to review whatever we’re proposing to do,” Gugino added. “If they’re happy with it they approve it, and then it can go to bid.”

Gugino said the original permit expired in 2012.

“I want to make sure we get that $250,000 bike path money, phase III, because we had to get an extension on that. There are time constraints on the extension,” he added.

The city is waiting the outcome of the state’s Consolidated Funding Application to see how much help it will get for the seawall project. Gugino also said the new Willowbrook Avenue water tank is proceeding on schedule and could be connected and operational by the end of October. Demolition of the old tank and tower would occur next year.

Gugino said the DPW,, encompassing all divisions, is down 15 people from 2004, including three since 2012, with one of those replaced.

“We’re still providing all the services but I don’t think we’re providing the services to the level that the residents deserve, like they used to do,” Gugino stated. “We used to spend a lot more time doing things. … As I said to you people before, I’m not happy with the level of what I think we could be doing service-wise, but I am happy that we have not had to detract and cut anything out of key services people are used to.”

Kiyak asked about the trash crews leaving when their routes are finished.

“They work through their breaks and their lunch. This is an arrangement that was made with the city many many years ago. … When they’re done they come back and punch out during their normal punchout time and quite often, especially in time of snow, leaf pickup and all, those guys are put to work pitching in with a hand where we need them,” Gugino explained.

“So if we’re paying them for eight hours we’re getting eight hours,” Kiyak continued.

“Yes, but when they’re not physically there, they’re doing what the other guys do on their lunch breaks or break time,” Gugino stated.

Kiyak wanted to know about changing the trash schedule from four to three days per week and called for a 30-day log of department activities for council to study. Szukala suggested combining the two smallest trash districts into one. Kiyak said they wouldn’t know what would work until it was tried and residents would adjust.

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