Vinagro won’t renew transfer station contract with Portsmouth

Cites liability concerns, administrator says

EastBayRI.com ·

PORTSMOUTH — J.R. Vinagro Corp. of Johnsotn, the operator of the transfer station on Hedly Street, will not renew its contract with the town that expires June 30, Town Administrator Richard Rainer Jr. told the Town Council Monday night.

“They have liability concerns and believe the town has outgrown the size of this station,” Mr. Rainer said. 

After the meeting, Mr. Rainer said Vinagro has expressed the need for two more compactors at the transfer station, but the property’s footprint is too small to accommodate them.

The administrator said he’ll put out a request for proposals for another company to take over transfer station operations. At the same time, Mr. Rainer said he’ll be exploring longterm solutions regarding municipal waste going forward, recommendations he plans to present to the council in the future.

The proposals may include anything from removing yard waste and/or construction debris disposal from the transfer station, curbside pickup, a “pay-as-you-throw” program or entering into a cooperative agreement with another municipality, he said.

Commercial mooring fees hiked

In other business Monday, the owners of about 65 commercial moorings in town will see their mooring fees go from $250 to $300 annually after the council approved a request by Thomas Grieb of the Harbor Commission.

Mr. Grieb said the hike was needed to make commercial mooring fees more in line with non-resident fees which had previously been increased.

“It impacts only about 65 moorings, most of which are owned by Pirate Cove Marina and they are aware of this change,” Mr. Grieb stated in a Jan. 2 e-mail to council member David Gleason. “Right now a commercial mooring is less expensive than we charge the average non-resident. Even with the increase it is still way less than commercial mooring fees in neighboring municipalities.”

Boat engines purchased

The council unanimously voted to spend $33,163 for the installation of two new engines for the harbormaster’s boat. 

Mr. Rainer said the money for the engines would come from the harbormaster boat reserve of $55,681, leaving a balance of $22,518.

The $33,163 quote from Maritime Solutions, Inc. also provides a trade value of $2,000 for the old engines, according to David Faucher, interim finance director.

Police station architect

The council unanimously approved a $571,000 contract with Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc. (DRA) to be the architectural firm for the new police station that will be built under a $10 million bond approved by voters in November.

DRA is the same company the town hired last year to study future infrastructure needs for the police and fire departments. DRA recommended that a new 20,0000-square-foot, two-story police station be built on land behind the current building on East Main Road. 

“We look forward to a new building by September of next year,” said Mr. Hamilton.

Capital improvements

Mr. Rainer, saying he intends to revive an annual review of the town’s five-year capital improvement plan (CIP), asked council members for their priority items going forward.

Mr. Rainer said a CIP was created in 2012 but hasn’t been updated every year as originally intended. He wants to present the updated CIP along with the annual municipal budget to the council in April.

“Right now I am in danger of presenting to you a budget which does not have your goals or priorities in it and I need that information,” said Mr. Rainer, adding that “there’s no intent to borrow” any funds for projects until the town’s existing debt service is paid off.

Among the priorities mentioned by council members were road paving, replacing Department of Public Works vehicles and addressing the rot that’s been found at Town Hall.

“The rot in Town Hall should be addressed quickly,” said council member J. Mark Ryan. “It’s a health hazard.”

Council member Paul Kesson said some items listed on a draft Mr. Rainer had presented — such as police walkie-talkies — should come out of the regular budget instead. A CIP, he said, should be reserved for major improvements to public buildings and grounds, he said.

Legal services

The council voted unanimously to direct Mr. Rainer and the Finance Department to prepare a request for proposals (RFP) for the town’s legal services.

Council President Keith Hamilton proposed the idea as a “cost-saving measure” for the town.

Council member Elizabeth Pedro welcomed the idea and noted how much the town has been spending on legal services over the past few years: $193,000 in 2016, $165,000 in 2015, $231,000 in 2014 and $261,000 in 2013. And, in 2011 when the town was dealing with litigation over wastewater issues, the legal bills topped out at a whopping $318,000, she said.

National Grid hearing

The council received word that the state Energy Facility Siting Board will conduct an upcoming public hearing in Portsmouth on National Grid’s application for major infrastructure upgrades on Aquidneck Island from late 2018 through 2020.

The hearing on the Aquidneck Island Reliability Project will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, in the Portsmouth Town Council Chambers at Town Hall.

Another hearing will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Middletown Town Hall, 350 East Main Road, Middletown.

Victualler license

Sitting as the Board of License Commissioners, the council voted unanimously to grant a victualler license to Jeffrey Gambrell, doing business as Patriot Nutrition, 3001 East Main Road.

The store’s hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.


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