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$5.2 Million in Bonds Requested to Finance Sandy Damage Repairs

Additional costs incurred during Hurricane Sandy for salary, overtime, and equipment use total -- to date -- $3.2 million for the town and $250,000 for the school district.

The Board of Selectmen approved on Wednesday a bond resolution to appropriate $5,238,200 to cover the cost of repairs to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Director of Public Works Joe Michelangelo and his staff identified 24 repairs and improvements to the town's infrastructure, beaches, harbors, and more (scroll to the bottom of the story for a breakdown).

"Each structure damaged during Sandy needs to be repaired," Michelangelo said.

First Selectman Michael Tetreau added that the goal in passing the resolution Wednesday is to get the structures fixed as soon as possible.

"This is less of a plan than a reaction to what Sandy did to us," Tetreau said.

The decision to request a bond resolution -- which must also be approved by the Board of Finance and RTM before the funds are appropriated -- gives the town more flexibility than taking the money out of the current operating budget, Tetreau said.

On FEMA: 'Lack of Action in D.C. Complicates Things'

Another concern officials have to address is the lack of assurance that the projects are eligible for FEMA reimbursement. It had been anticipated that 75 percent of the costs would be up for reimbursement, but those funds could be jeopardized after Congress failed to act on the $60.4 million Sandy relief package Tuesday.

"The lack of action in D.C. complicates things," Tetreau said. If the FEMA reimbursement model changes significantly, officials will have to review and possibly cut from the list of projects before appropriating the money.  

The town is planning to hire a consultant with experience in dealing with FEMA reimbursement applications. That consultant will help design the project repairs to meet FEMA's standards (assuming all goes well with a forthcoming Sandy relief bill in Congress), as well as identify other costs eligible for reimbursement.

Robert Mayer, the town's Chief of Staff and interim Chief Fiscal Officer, said that a consultant would be chosen in January. The town will submit its reimbursement application to FEMA in February. The hiring of a consultant is also eligible for repayment under FEMA, according to Mayer.

'Incredible Expenses' Incurred (Wages, Manpower, Equipment, Building Use)

 In addition to the Fairfield's infrastructure and beach repairs, the town incurred "incredible expenses" in wages, manpower, and equipment and building use, Mayer said.

To date, the incremental cost to the town for salary and building/equipment use is $3.2 million. Sandy cost the school district $250,000, Mayer said.

Should the town be eligible for reimbursement of 75 percent of those expenses, the net cost to Fairfield would be $900,000, according to Mayer.

Emergency Management Response Team Report

None of the figures mentioned begin to describe the damage Sandy wreaked on residential properties, especially in the beach area. Deputy Fire Chief Art Reid -- who presented on the emergency management response team's debriefing of Sandy -- said the 2012 storm rivaled or was slightly more severe than the New England Hurricane of 1938.

The difference between Sandy and the storm of 1938 is the number of people living in the beach area, Reid said -- in 1938, only a fraction of the population resided in those neighborhoods.

More than 2,000 houses were affected by Sandy -- mainly near the beach, but 50 to 75 homes throughout town were damaged by downed trees and wires, according to Reid.

At height of the storm, 97 percent of town was without power, and it took about eight days for United Illuminating to fully restore power to Fairfield.

The shelter at Fairfield Ludlowe High School housed at 297 people and 54 pets at one point during the storm and its aftermath. The shelter was open for seven days and housed more residents than any coastal community except Bridgeport, Reid said.

Below is a breakdown of the repairs included in the $5,238,200 bond resolution:

  • Penfield Pavilion foundation repair/raising, building repair, bulkhead modification - $1,000,000;
  • Penfield Beach, Jennings Beach, Sasco Beach, Southport Beach replenishment - $700,000;
  • South Benson navigational channel re-establishment - $400,000;
  • Southport Harbor navigational channel re-establishment: $400,000;
  • Fairfield Beach Road drainage, road base, asphalt - $370,000;
  • Southport Beach seawall/parking lot repairs - $350,000;
  • South Benson fishing pier repair - $300,000;
  • Pine Creek navigational channel re-establishment - $300,000;
  • Fairfield Beach Road cul-de-sac bulkhead repair - $150,000;
  • Pine Creek dike revetment repair and elevation increase - $125,000;
  • Pine Creek navigational channel debris cleanup - $100,000;
  • Fire Training Center Dike upgrade - $75,000;
  • Southport Beach concession building replacement - $70,000;
  • Sasco Beach concession building replacement - $70,000;
  • Ye Yacht Yard lavatory/storage building replacement - $65,000;
  • Miscellaneous dike and tide gate improvements - $65,000;
  • Sasco Beach wall/drainage/lot repairs - $65,000;
  • Penfield Pavilion parking lot repairs - $50,000;
  • Perry Green bulkhead repairs - $50,000;
  • Pequot Ave Bridge scouring and pavement damage repair - $30,000;
  • Smith Richardson Golf Course maintenance building - $12,000;
  • Trez Wooden Fishing Pier - $10,000;
  • Water Pollution Control Facility Compost Shed Repair - $10,000;
  • Bowman's Way access road repairs - $10,000;
  • Contingency - $476,200, which is 10 percent of total costs ($4,762,000), for a final total of $5,238,200.

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