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Ridgewood Flood Protection Funding Comes Up Short

The lowest bid to clear the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook and Saddle River of tree stumps and branches came in $120,000 over budget, requiring a scaling back of the project.

With the lowest bid more than $100,000 than what was budgeted, Ridgewood may not be able to complete its plan to clear the and of debris piles that .

According to Ridgewood Village Manager Ken Gabbert, the lowest bid received on the watershed protection project was $683,000, considerably higher than the $568,000 set aside to clear sand bars and trees in the two waterways.

As a result, the work to provide the town that has racked up millions in damages will come to a halt when the cash runs out.

"We believe some of these have already been removed by residents, so we think that actual amount will be less," said Village Engineer Chris Rutishauser.

Flooding during Hurricane Irene , sending , destroying a critical sewer line and leaving Village Hall a casualty.

The watershed protection bid is structured as a unit price bid, meaning the contractor will remove in tree branches and stumps based on weighed quantity. The work performed does not include dredging, as stipulated by the DEP.

Ridgewood will have to carefully monitor its costs when the project begins (likely in mid-August, ). The budget challenge means work may not be as great in scope, but Rutishauser stressed it won't be done in isolated strips.

"What we will have to do is very carefully is monitor the length of the Ho-Ho-Kus Brook and the Saddle River work zones that we've identified so that none get slighted," he said. "In some areas we may have to reduce some of the volume of debris removed to reduce the costs to meet the award."

There were inquiries from the council Wednesday night as to potentially rebidding the project. But the risk of pushing the project back at least six weeks – and the great unknown of what bids might be like in the second round – convinced the council to forge ahead.

"I think we need to move forward," said Mayor Paul Aronsohn. "We need to clean it out as much as we can, as soon as we can."

In determing the project's scope by tabulating estimated quantities to be removed, there remains some hope the $120,000 problem might not be a problem at all.

"It is possible with 80 percent funding you could get 100 percent of the job done because the requested funding is based on an estimate?" asked Deputy Mayor Al Pucciarelli, who received an affirmative reply from the engineer.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor James Kleimann at James.Kleimann@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

RdgwdGRock July 13, 2012 at 01:21 PM
well, how did they come up with the $568k budget in the first place? were preliminary bids put out to gauge a cost? tell Gabbert to put his raise into the budget pool
James Kleimann July 13, 2012 at 01:51 PM
It's a capital project, so it's bonded. If memory serves, at least $350,000 is funded through federal grants.
RdgwdGRock July 13, 2012 at 03:32 PM
the question is not about what kind of project this is or the source of funding, but directed to how did the village come up with the budget number as an estimate to do the work? did the village solicit preliminary estimates in order to arrive at the $568k amount?
JAFO July 13, 2012 at 05:06 PM
"We believe some of these have already been removed by residents, so we think that actual amount will be less," said Village Engineer Chris Rutishauser. Heck, if that's the case, just hire a bunch a unemployed workers and have them spend the summer clearing debris. I'm sure you could spend well under the $568k estimate.
James Kleimann July 13, 2012 at 05:15 PM
There was actually some talk of getting a chain gang to do the work.
JAFO July 13, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Seriously, we're talking about manual labor, right? Prison work release would be perfect.
Dot July 13, 2012 at 10:45 PM
"I think we need to move forward," said Mayor Paul Aronsohn. "We need to clean it out as much as we can, as soon as we can." The comment Mayor Paul Aronsohn is hopeful. We hope the debris will be removed around the bridges to keep the bridges from becoming dams. We all know the floods come from the back up of debris. We hope anything the Village can do to remove the debris from around the bridges will keep the water flowing the way it should be. We also wonder if there is anymore funding the Village of Ridgewood can attain from the state to contribute to the cleaning of the HoHoKus Brook.
maryanne July 14, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Too many leaves in the brook....bag them!

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