Wednesday, May 14, 2014

PMUA Roundup: Driver Hits Building, More News

Damage to a PMUA building caused by a drunk driver

Executive Director Dan Williamson opened Tuesday's PMUA meeting by informing commissioners of an accident that displaced workers and left a Cottage Place building structurally unstable.

Williamson said that at 2:30 a.m. on May 10, a drunk driver crashed into a garage building and destroyed support for an I-beam. The building is now "off limits to us," he said pending findings of a structural engineer and other engineers. Vehicles were relocated to other PMUA facilities across the street and staff was reassigned there as well.

The driver survived the crash, he said.

In PMUA business:

- The Borough of Roselle has become the latest outside client of the authority, for disposal of bulky waste and vegetative waste. The Roselle Board of Education recently contracted with the authority for recycling pickup. There are now seven or eight outside contracts, Williamson said. For most of its more than 15 years of operation, the authority only served Plainfield with sewer and solid waste services. Commissioner Malcolm Dunn brought out the fact that all the long-sought outside contracts have come about during Williamson's tenure since July 1, 2012.

- Repairs to the Rock Avenue interceptor that handles 50 percent of the city's sewage will cost $1.25 million and will be paid from renewal and replacement reserves.

- The authority expects to receive $2,200 per unit for sewer hookups to an 85-unit apartment building on East Front Street between Roosevelt and Westervelt avenues.

- Officials are in the process of setting up a timeline for the demolition of Elmwood Gardens, for which the PMUA will remove debris.

- The authority has five meters that can be used to measure water for filling in-ground or above-ground pools so that the flow is not added to the property owner's sewer bill. PMUA will try to get the word out through its City Council liaisons, contacts with block associations and letters to pool owners who are registered with the city. Besides its quarterly newsletters, the authority is also setting up a system whereby customers can get  news and announcements by email. There is a form on the PMUA web site to sign up for "eNews blasts and Important Service Announcements (ISAs)."

In public comment, resident Dennis McKenzie complained that he observed a neighbor having bulk waste picked up by two workers illegally, while he had paid a fee to have a pickup. Williamson said the workers were reprimanded, but McKenzie felt his fee should be refunded.

"I do it the right way," he said.

Williamson said personnel matters were confidential and thanked him for bringing the matter to the attention of the authority, but his fee would not be refunded.

Resident Corinne Jordan of the east Sixth Street Block Association asked whether the PMUA would furnish shovels and rakes for a cleanup. Williamson said he wanted to reach out to block associations and would attend one of their meetings. Jordan also asked about a stipend that groups used to earn for cleanups, but Williamson said those funds were turned over to the PMUA during the administration of the late Mayor Albert T. McWilliams and were now used for such things as the PMUA's annual Environmental Fair.

Another resident complained about two trash bins behind 1010 Park Avenue that appear to be targets for illegal dumping. A hauler empties only one or the other weekly, but not both, she said. The resident said City Administrator Rick Smiley was talking to the property owner one day and she tried to find out who is responsible for enforcing rules against illegal dumping. Williamson said he will be meeting with Smiley this week and will discuss it. The resident said she did not understand why Public Works did not get involved,but Williamson said they cannot write up summonses. Williamson cited "so many conflicting interests in Plainfield," but said he was trying to work with Inspections.

Former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs also spoke during public comment and suggested that the residents with concerns attend the June 17 City Council meeting to seek help.



  1. The clean community grant money was for block associations and other community groups to use to help clean up the city. Why does the PMUA use the money to feed the employees friends and politicians?

  2. Should the state investigate how the clean communities grant money is spent? I do not think it is meant to be spent of food. I thought is was to educate people to recycle and keep their neighborhood clean.

  3. How much grant money does the PMUA get for the Political food festival from the state grant?

  4. To all three commenters, I believe the PMUA had a large number of sponsors for the Environmental Fair. You can always ask for their expense records through the Open Public Records Act.

  5. Given the 8 contracts for recycling, the income from sponsors for the Environmental Fair, and 85 new "hook ups" it appears we have entered an era of unprecedented prosperity. I look forward to an early announcement regarding a significant reduction in rates. Bill Kruse

    1. There was also a discussion regarding a major change in a recycling company's payment to PMUA but I didn't get all the details. It made me want to know more about the whole chain of costs, from collection to transfer station operations to final disposal contracts with various providers. The company is now paying the PMUA only $5 a ton for recyclables. There will be a joint PMUA-City Council meeting in coming weeks and maybe the question can be a topic.

    2. PMUA contracts with Green Sky Industries for recycling disposal. Green Sky used to pay $30/ton, but the market has dropped sharply and now they will only pay $5/ton. Other proposals indicated that PMUA would have to pay rather than being paid. The Authority is also looking at new contracts with Linden, Kenilworth, Clark, and Rahway. Additionally, they will be trying to get DEP to increase the tonnage limitation at the Rock Ave. Transfer Station. It's currently set at 280 tons per day, but with approvals it might be increased to 750-1000 tons daily. If PMUA does meet with the City Council and Administration, I hope they will finally get down to business with the Inter Local Agreement and associated contract fraud regarding Section 203, the City appropriation, and the Solid Waste lease, as well as the many $100,000s in illegal compensation they've awarded to many commissioners and their spouses over the years. Though PMUA is finally expanding its business, the contract bait and switch, and the compensation issue must be resolved.