After months of back-and-forth between Brick officials and the developer of a solar farm at the former French’s Landfill site on Sally Ike Road, the decision was made by the township council Tuesday night to spend $78,357 to hire a contractor to mow the overgrown plot of land.
Mayor John Ducey said Brick Standard, the solar farm operator, refused to foot the bill for the landscaping of the site because the contract between the company and the township states that Brick Standard is only responsible for the land beneath its solar panels – not the site as a whole.
“We were fighting with the solar field people because I didn’t think it should have been our responsibility to maintain this,” Ducey said. “It’s ridiculous that the solar field is responsible for the land under the solar field but not the rest of it. We’re stuck having to maintain this thing.”
As the dispute between the township and Brick Standard simmered, the weeds continued to grow. The landscaping debacle was further complicated by the incline of the capped landfill site, which has a slope too steep for normal mowers to operate. That necessitated the township having to go out to bid to find the services of a company that operates remote motorized mowers. The township had looked into purchasing the mowers itself, but officials found that the equipment – and parts – could only be found and served by a company located in Sweden.
Joanne Bergin, the township’s business administrator, said the contractor, Burke Environmental, of Wall, told officials the job will take between 10 and 20 people and 45 to 60 days to complete.
“This is a fairly extensive process,” Bergin said, especially with the incline, which ascends one foot for every two feet of distance.
Cushioning the financial blow is the fact that the township will not likely face such a high bill in the future. After the initial landscaping job, the township will routinely keep the overgrowth under control, with future mowing projects costing “significantly less,” Bergin said.
Stormwater Project Also Approved
In addition to the landscaping project, the council also unanimously approved a $241,213 to Earle Asphalt to repair and improve stormwater basins at the former Superfund site.
Bergin said stormwater is currently collecting due to a failure of a previously-built stormwater management system. The township will seek to recoup the bill for the rebuild from either the engineering firm or contractor on the previous project once it is determined which party is responsible for the poor job.
The stormwater project is being completed in accordance with EPA requirements.
“Anyone who lives over there knows the water doesn’t drain, it turns into a lake and a mosquito pit,” Ducey said.