De­bris mulched near the vil­lage dog park, speed­ing up process.

The Palm Beach Post - - LOCAL & BUSINESS - By Kristina Webb Palm Beach Post Staff Writer kwebb@pbpost.com

WELLING­TON — With one of the high­est de­bris tal­lies in Palm Beach County fol­low­ing Hur­ri­cane Irma, the Vil­lage Coun­cil on Tues­day night ap­proved $2.3 mil­lion for a con­trac­tor to haul that de­bris away.

That price tag is the most it will cost Ge­or­gia-based con­trac­tor Tag Grind­ing Ser­vices to fin­ish pick­ing up the large piles of veg­e­ta­tion, fence pieces and other items left be­hind by the storm, vil­lage staff said.

Crews picked up about 157,000 cu­bic yards of veg­e­ta­tion as of Mon­day, said Welling­ton pur­chas­ing direc­tor Ed De La Vega — a num­ber Vil­lage Man­ager Paul Schofield said is how much Welling­ton typ­i­cally would col­lect in five years.

It also is nearly twice the amount of de­bris hauled so far by Palm Beach County’s largest city, West Palm Beach, which has picked up about 87,000 cu­bic yards, ac­cord­ing to a Tues­day up­date from the Solid Waste Au­thor­ity of Palm Beach County.

The vil­lage orig­i­nally agreed to a $1 mil­lion pur­chase or­der with Tag Grind­ing, but the amount went up over the past week as the con­trac­tor sped up its routes and be­gan a sec­ond trip through the vil­lage, De La Vega said.

Welling­ton was able to move so much veg­e­ta­tion so quickly thanks to a sys­tem of­fi­cials set up in the days af­ter Hur­ri­cane Irma moved through: In­stead of driv­ing de­bris to the county’s drop-off site at 20 Mile Bend, crews in­stead drove truck­fuls of branches, leaves and stumps to a drop-off site near the vil­lage’s dog park, where the veg­e­ta­tion is mulched.

In ad­di­tion to the money for Tag Grind­ing, coun­cil mem­bers also gave the OK to spend $768,000 with a 20 per­cent con­tin­gency for a re­cy­cling ser­vice to dis­pose of that mulch pile. The coun­cil also ap­proved $300,000 for a con­trac­tor to clear fallen trees from wa­ter­ways in 23 ar­eas in the vil­lage.

“Ul­ti­mately we’re gonna be in this for some­place be­tween $4 (mil­lion) and $5 mil­lion,” Schofield said, adding that the vil­lage ex­pects to be re­im­bursed about 85 per­cent by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and the state.

There is $3 mil­lion in Welling­ton’s dis­as­ter re­cov­ery fund to cover the costs of clean­ing up Irma’s mess, Schofield said, and money to pay for any­thing be­yond that $3 mil­lion will come from the vil­lage’s solid waste re­serves.

“Un­like many com­mu­ni­ties, we have the money to do it, and I want to make sure our res­i­dents know that,” Schofield told the coun­cil.

“I am per­son­ally happy be­cause I’m amazed at what’s ac­tu­ally hap­pened this quickly,” Mayor Anne Ger­wig said.

The coun­cil and Schofield also took a few min­utes to laud As­sis­tant Vil­lage Man­ager Jim Barnes for his ef­forts in co­or­di­nat­ing de­bris re­moval through­out the vil­lage.

“Hav­ing watched this, we are sig­nif­i­cantly fur­ther along be­cause of the work Jim’s been able to do,” Schofield said.

Royal Palm de­bris re­moval

Royal Palm Beach also is close to com­plet­ing de­bris pickup, with more than 18,000 cu­bic yards col­lected so far, Royal Palm Vil­lage Man­ager Ray Lig­gins said Tues­day.

De­bris col­lec­tion is tak­ing longer in the un­in­cor­po­rated parts of Palm Beach County near Welling­ton, where of­fi­cials have said crews will have to work for about 90 days to clear every­thing.

More than 1.2 mil­lion cu­bic yards have been taken to the nine Solid Waste Au­thor­ity sites through­out the county, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est num­bers pro­vided by the com­pany. That amount does not in­clude Welling­ton or the other three mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that have their own col­lec­tion sites: Boca Ra­ton, Palm Beach Gar­dens and Del­ray Beach.

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