Essex Town Administrator's Report | April 8


This report covers the period between March 5 and March 25.

Old Fire Station Site Restoration Project Update/Change Order

As the Board may recall, progress on the restoration of the old fire station site at 24 Martin Street had ground to a halt due to subcontractor costs that had increased for our general contractor, Encore Contracting, well beyond what Encore had carried in its bid.  When these costs are added to additional carrying costs for the construction site, our Encore is facing a deficit of around $30,000 based upon the agreed-to, lump-sum contract price ($185,800).  While it is not the Town’s responsibility to cover these costs, in an effort to avoid a protracted dispute involving Town Counsel, and with the goal of getting the project site restored for the upcoming spring and summer, the Board should consider authorizing a final change order for a portion of what the contractor is seeking.  Presently, the contractor is willing to accept $10,000 for its $30,000 deficit to settle the matter (after Town Counsel, Chairman Pereen, and the TA negotiated with the contractor).  Even with an additional $10,000 going to the contractor (on top of the first change order in the amount of $28,130), the demolition/restoration project will still be within 1.8 percent of its $220,000 original budget – a grand total of $223,930.

Continued Consideration of Future Solid Waste/Recycling Services

At the Board’s February 28, meeting, the Selectmen discussed possible future solid waste and recycling services options with the Board of Public Works.  The town’s present arrangement with Covanta terminates at the end of 2022 and the town needs to line up new services, which may include the continued operation of a transfer station, curbside trash pickup, or both.  Mr. Zubricki has been surveying area communities concerning their present pricing for various permutations of waste disposal and solutions vary widely from community to community.  On one end, residents need to make private arrangements for solid waste and recycling disposal (the town is not involved at all and pays nothing) and, on the other end, some communities offer both curbside pickup and a transfer station, with varying degrees of “pay-as-you-throw” in place.  What’s clear is that tipping fees at area solid waste endpoints are approaching $90 per ton (Essex currently pays $67.71).  The Board of Public Works is looking over these various arrangements and their associated pricing and will be providing more input back to the Selectmen in the near future.

Monthly Pothole Log

The TA obtained the subject log from the Department of Public Works for the month of February 2022 during the week of March 7.  The log is intended to document rapid repairs to any reported potholes.  No potholes were reported during February.

Greater Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce Essex Division Meeting

Mr. Zubricki attended the subject meeting along with Chairman Pereen and Selectman Phippen on March 9, 2022.  The TA updated the group on a variety of ongoing Town initiatives and projects, as did the Fire Chief and the Chief of Police.

Greater Cape Ann Caucus

Mr. Zubricki attended the subject meeting on March 25 along with other Town

personnel and officials.  The Greater Cape Ann Caucus is a twice-yearly meeting sponsored by the Government Affairs Council of the Greater Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce.  The Caucus convenes Council members, greater Cape Ann’s legislative delegation, and local officials and school leaders to share information and engage in dialogue on key issues of regional and statewide importance.  Mr. Zubricki provided the group with an update on projects and initiatives occurring in Essex and we heard about a variety of topics from our State legislative delegation.

Regional Storm Water and Zoning Bylaw Review Project Meeting

Various regional resource management organizations including the Ipswich River Watershed Association (IRWA), Greenscapes, Salem Sound Coast Watch, and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission (MVPC) are initiating a study of existing stormwater and zoning bylaws in our area in an effort to cut down on harmful pollutants found in stormwater runoff.  The group held a virtual kickoff meeting on March 24, 2022 and the TA was in attendance along with Selectman Phippen, Superintendent Galli, the DPW’s stormwater consulting engineer, Planning Board Chairman Drake, and personnel from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).  This new effort will be able to augment what the Town is already doing with respect to a review of its own zoning bylaws (with the help of MAPC) and what the DPW is mandated to continue to work on with respect to stormwater management and permitting.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all communities in the country to have a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) plan that increases in complexity and reach

with each passing year. The work of the project will only help the Town to stay in step with EPA requirements while providing important information about Low Impact Development (LID) to MAPC as they continue to review overall zoning bylaw revision suggestions for the Town.

Finalization of Annual Town Meeting Warrant

Mr. Zubriski has developed a final version of the Annual Town Meeting warrant in accordance with the Board’s guidance from the last meeting.

Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Grant Information Session

Mr. Zubricki participated in the subject session offered by State personnel on March 7, 2022.  As the Board is aware, we plan on applying to the MVP grant program for a project that will take the Apple Street roadbed elevation work through final design and permitting.  The State released the Request for Responses (RFR) during the week of March 14 and applications are due by May 5, 2022.

Division of Ecological Restoration Culvert Grant Report

Our engineering firm (TEC) filed with the DER on March 15 a required progress report with respect to the Town’s participation in the Municipal Culvert Replacement grant program.  The project is focusing on final design aspects of a roadbed elevation proposal in one of two low areas on the Southern Avenue end of Apple Street.  This particular low area happens to have a culvert running beneath it and the culvert must be addressed as part of the project – simultaneously improving the culvert’s effectiveness in allowing aquatic and non-aquatic wildlife to pass back and forth beneath the road.  The project is moving along well and TEC has submitted design plans to DER at the 50 percent stage.

Possible Green Communities Grant Project

The Town Planner arranged to have a representative of Guardian Energy Services tour the Town Hall with Mr. Zubricki and her on March 10 to review how energy efficiency in Town Hall might be further improved.  As the Board may recall, a representative of National Grid had already visited Town Hall to determine what types of energy efficiency incentives might be available (a required aspect of any Green Communities Grant application).  Guardian will make recommendations for further improvements and the Town Planner will possibly use all of the information collected to include the Town Hall project in this year’s Green Communities Grant application. The Planner is also continuing to look at possible improvements with respect to water and sewer pumps.  Presently, given that more research may need to be done, the project is more likely to be proposed during the fall grant round than the spring round.

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