FENWICK ISLAND – Officials say outsourcing the town’s mowing would give the public works department time to address tidal flooding issues along the bayside.
Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted 6-1, with Councilwoman Vicki Carmean opposed, to approve a $13,000 contract for mowing services. Town Manager Terry Tieman said hiring an outside contractor to mow the town’s right of ways, medians and other areas would give the town’s public works department more time to install 11 new backflow preventers in critical areas along the bayside.
“It’s not a complicated process,” she said. “We believe we can handle it in-house, but we do need some assistance in mowing.”
Tieman told council members last week the public works department had been short staffed for several weeks and that the town had looked into hiring a contractor to install the backflow valves, which would address tidal flooding issues along the bayside. But after receiving a quote for $33,000, the department began exploring other options.
“I asked them to think of ways to accomplish this and one of the ways was to contract the mowing,” she said. “We aren’t saying we want to contract it every week – the weeks that we can do it, we will – but we want to put somebody on retainer to be able to do this. We received one quote … we may not spend all of that, but we think it’s the better alternative than the $33,000.”
Tieman said the mowing contract totaled $812 per week for 16 weeks. She noted the town would only be charged for work that is completed.
“If what we are doing is working, we may come back to you and ask for approval to buy more valves, so we can keep going throughout the summer and get it all done,” she said.
Carmean, however, said she was concerned about the effectiveness of the backflow preventers.
“I’m concerned that we jump into this not really understanding what the technology is,” she said. “It looks like it should work, and I’m optimistic and glad something’s going to be done, but nothing has worked for almost 20 years.”
Tieman noted that the technology of the backflow preventers had improved in recent decades.
“We reviewed it …,” she said, “and we’ll have the sales people come out and check the first few to make sure they are being installed right.”
Councilman Bernie Merritt said he supported the effort.
“I think the town has waited long enough,” he said. “Residents on the bayside have talked about this for some time. I think we should move this forward and do the process correctly, make sure it’s checked along the way.”
After further discussion, the council voted to approve the mowing contract.
“If this doesn’t work, we’ll abandon it,” Tieman said. “But we just feel like this is a better approach to get it all done.”
Carmean, however, said she opposed the proposal over concerns about the backflow preventers and its installation.
“I’m going to oppose it just because I’m concerned not enough of the process is understood,” she said. “I hope it works.”