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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wallingford official admits wood disposal mistake

As published in the Record Journal Friday January 27, 2012

By Russell Blair
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2225

WALLINGFORD — Responding to a town councilor’s concerns, Public Works Director Henry McCully admitted Thursday that some wood cut from town parks has been disposed of improperly.

McCully said it was due to a misreading of a contract with Randy Mangino, a public works employee. The wood has since been returned.

“The wood has been brought back to Garden Road (the Public Works yard),” McCully said. “We corrected that. It was an error on my side.”

Town Councilor Nicholas Economopoulos, a Democrat, had sent a memo to McCully asking him to look into a report from someone who saw town trucks making several trips with cut wood to a site the wood was not usually taken to. McCully replied several days later that he had “investigated your ‘missing wood’ complaint.”

The wood was cut from Jan. 3 to Jan. 9 and included the cleanup of several town parks after a late October snowstorm. Wood was removed from Pire Park, Marcus Cooke Park, Lufberry Park, Bertini Park, Wallace Park and Kendrick Park.

McCully said that the wood was delivered to Garden Road, the Public Works yard on Town Farm Road and a disposal site owned by Mangino.

Mangino has a contract with the town which allows it to use his disposal site for clean fill and debris. But McCully wrote in a Jan. 23 letter responding to Economopoulos, “Randy Mangino’s contract does not allow him to receive wood generated from our parks cleanup.”

Corporation Counsel Janis Small said that the Town Charter doesn’t prevent town employees from bidding on a contract.

“No officer or employee shall enter into any contract with the Town other than a contract of employment, unless the contract has been awarded through an open and public process,” the charter reads.

McCully also said that the practice of town employees taking wood home from the Public Works yard has been stopped. Some of the excess wood the town cut had been stored in the yard in the past, and employees would take small amounts home to help clean up the yard.

Reached Thursday, Economopoulos said he was still looking into the matter, and wouldn’t comment further until he had “all the information.”

The October snowstorm resulted in an abnormally large amount of debris, McCully said. Once the town finishes cleaning out its parks and other properties, the disposal of the wood will likely go out to bid. McCully said that with so much wood already available, having the town sell it back isn’t a viable option.

“The market is already so saturated,” he said.