By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — It was a blue collar-white collar face-off Wednesday night at the selectmen's meeting when Solid Waste Committee member and lifelong trash hauler Kevin Leandro said the engineers' estimate to build a solid waste transfer station in Gilford is at least $200,000 too high.
Engineers from CMA Engineering in Portsmouth presented two possible proposals, one of which would cost an estimated $1,009,000 that includes an alternative bid of $35,000 for a bathroom. The second was for an estimated $1,121,000 and involved a little more site work and excavating and mobilizing costs that weren't in the first one. It, too, included a $35,000 alternative bid for a bathroom.
Leandro said he liked the designs and the facility placement that the engineers presented but said he objected because there is about a 15 percent contingency built into what he called a very simple project.
He also objected to the "mobilizing" costs.
"What mobilizing costs?" he said. "It's basically a shed with electricity."
He said some of the fill required in the construction could be gotten from some of the excavation and that there is no need for a construction manager because the town could oversee the project itself and use local contractors for the work.
He also said the electrical and the ventilation estimates were way too high.
Leandro also told the board that in his recent professional experience, the costs of the facility equipment of a compactor container, two vertical balers and a skid steer are too high.
"Just the stuff I know the cost of, we're in about $784,000 with the bathroom," he said.
The two engineers had no response to Leandro, and, after listening to his statements, waited until the discussion was finished and left.
Leandro also said he was upset because he thought that the proposal that was presented to the selectboard Wednesday would come before the Solid Waste Committee for final approval before it went to the selectmen.
He suggested reviewing the figures, making some calls to local contractors and presenting a realistic estimate to the voters even if it takes another 12 months.
He told the board that building Gilford's own solid waste facility isn't an emergency and that the selectmen "can't allow the taxpayers to be screwed at the expense of urgency."
He urged them not to risk a bond issue for $1 million that would likely not get the recommendation of the Budget Committee, which would make the chance of its passing much less likely.
Last year, selectmen formed a solid waste committee to see if building their own facility would make more sense than continuing to use the one in Laconia. The committee determined it would make more sense in the long run and at the 2016 annual Town Meeting, voters approved $45,000 for studying such a facility.
Town Administrator Scott Dunn said Thursday that the chairman of the Solid Waste Committee would set a time for a final meeting but that he was inclined to take Leandro's advice and recommend the selectmen put a bond for $784,000 on the 2017 warrant and, if it passes, use local contractors and oversee the project themselves.
"We have some very capable people here in Gilford," said Dunn.
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