Ever since Belleville’s governing body voted to dump its perennial trash collector earlier this year, the township has been beset by trouble.
In a March 21 letter to The Observer, Michelle Smith, a resident of the River Mill West Condo Association, said after the township ended its contract with Suburban Disposal, of Fairfield, and hired Galaxy Carting, of Jersey City, as a temporary hauler, “our community and the rest of Belleville have not been receiving regular garbage/recycling collections for two weeks.”
Contributing to the delays, Smith said, “our dumpsters were removed and not replaced for a week. The (township) DPW delivered a minimal of ‘loaner’ dumpsters to our property (March 15) and picked up garbage as best they could at that time. These dumpsters are overflowing as of this writing and no pickup yet.”
Anthony Iacono, the township manager, conceded some condo associations “haven’t gotten their containers back and the temporary hauler is doing its best to replace them but it’s a time-consuming process. A garbage truck can fit only one container at a time and additional time is consumed transporting the trash and recyclables to the DPW garage for disposal, he said.
Iacono estimated that, as of last week, about 180 of the approximately 250 containers spread around the township had been replaced.
As for allegations of delayed pickups for other property owners, Iacono said the township has experienced “no interruptions of service,” but acknowledged the temporary vendor has been undergoing a learning process, getting to know the routes and adjusting to the pickup schedule.
Still, Iacono said, the township has experienced problems even with an experienced vendor like Suburban. During the past two years, he said, the township has registered “more than 600” service-related complaints from residents for things like “not finishing a route on time” and “throwing garbage cans down the street.”
Late last year, the township advertised for bids for renewal of solid–waste collection–services, resulting in the receipt of a single bid from Suburban on Dec. 7. One week later, the township rejected the bid on the grounds “the single bid received did not represent a sufficiently competitive process.”
On Jan. 11, the township received a second round of bids, from Suburban and Galaxy, for a proposed 3-year contract and, subsequently, Galaxy was awarded the contract. Asked for details, Iacono shared a worksheet that listed Suburban’s “annualized 3-year total” at $7,072,400 and Galaxy’s comparable 3-year total at $6,612,000.
But Suburban contested the township’s interpretation of the figures and a court invalidated the contract award, ruling the township was obliged to conduct a third round of bidding, which has been scheduled for April 9, according to Iacono.
In the meantime, Iacono said the township can continue providing temporary collection services with Galaxy.
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Ron Leir | For The Observer
Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc.
He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter.
He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based WHATCo. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, New York