Published January 25. 2012 4:00AM
Groton - The president of the Groton Long Point Association was proactive when it came to cleaning up after Tropical Storm Irene last summer. Now, borough officials again are being proactive, this time trying to recoup the nearly $83,000 it spent on the cleanup.
The borough has asked the town to foot the bill. It has also requested reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
Groton Long Point Association president Robert T. Congdon told the Town Council Committee of the Whole Tuesday night that if the council did not approve the request, the same money would have to be part of its 2013 budget request.
Congdon said work began with preparations the day before the storm arrived. Two cleanup crews with heavy equipment, chain saws and other tools were called in, he said. They stayed overnight and went to work as soon as the winds allowed, cutting and clearing fallen trees and repairing a damaged retaining wall on East Shore Avenue. It was a two-week process.
"Remember, we were expecting a 14-foot surge, Congdon said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. "What if we couldn't get equipment in here after the storm? We had to plan ahead. We got off lucky, but it still put a huge dent in our operating budget."
Congdon said he was aware of comments Town Manager Mark Oefinger made in a recent meeting suggesting that Groton Long Point declined an offer of assistance from the town.
"As president of the association, I did not receive an offer of help," Congdon said. "Whoever (the town) told did not inform me. I didn't know it until I read the minutes. If that's the issue, it's just a communication problem."
Mayor Heather Bond Somers said some of the invoices Congdon submitted, as well as some of the photos he provided, were too vague. She questioned whether FEMA would accept them as strong enough proof to reimburse up to 75 percent of Groton Long Point's expenditures.
Oefinger said he would have to determine whether all 14 invoices from M.H. Lyon Backhoe Service Inc., Allied Tree Experts of Waterford and the Groton Long Point Public Works department were related to highway maintenance.
Some of the trees might have been on Groton Long Point or private property, and some might have been on the border of the borough, Congdon said, but the entire $82,797 he is asking the town to cover is the town's responsibility.
Congdon said all of the bills have been paid.
"Basically, we don't have any money left in our operating budget," Congdon said Tuesday night.
The council, decided not to take any action on the funding request until the borough hears from FEMA.
"In the meantime, if an emergency arises, I hope you have the confidence to come to us," said councilor Deborah Peruzzotti.
The town spent roughly $427,000 on Tropical Storm Irene. It anticipates a reimbursement of 75 percent of that, about $320,000. Oefinger has been notified that the town can expect payments accumulating to reach that amount.