Plans to transform the rear yard of the Quincy Department of Public Works into a yard waste-collection business have been put on hold after two separate requests for proposals for the space went unanswered.
According to DPW Commissioner Daniel Raymondi, the idea was to bring in an outside company to manage the space – collect leaves, grass clippings, and shrubbery; grind them into loam; sell the products to outside vendors.
Currently, the yard is doing that on a much smaller scale with a person who does not have a contract with the city.
“When I first got there, it was an individual without a contract with the city ... The contract was in existence a few years back but hasn’t been renewed, but I felt we had to put some definition on the obligations of Quincy and the obligations of the entity that’s going to be performing those services on our behalf,” Raymondi said when the bids went out in April.
Raymondi hoped the city could arrange a pilot program with whoever responded to the bid in order to properly plan how the process would work.
Funding for the activity, and how much a contract might cost, was still up in the air.
“[We need to] document what the cost is and then make a rational decision whether we continue on with what we’re doing or provide another alternative,” Raymondi said. “It’s another avenue for us to see what’s out there in the marketplace to make good decision on behalf of that rear yard and provide a service.”
Despite the plans, there has been no movement on the project.
According to Raymondi, the city put out the first request for proposal with a bond requirement to protect the city’s interests. When no one responded to the request, the city eliminated the bond issue for a second round.
Still, no one has responded.
Before the city puts out the request a third time, Raymondi said employees are having conversations with companies to come up with different strategies that might elicit a response.
“We put a lot of time and effort into it, so we’re knowledgeable about what is out there; we just need to see what we can do to improve conditions,” he said.
Outside of the bid, Raymondi said employees were working on ways to better manage the rear yard – including management of recyclables and yard waste – on their own. Still, the hope is to bring in an outside vendor or at least discuss what is possible.
“We are working internally with the resources that we have. We’re planning … and some [plans] might be more dramatic than others. All avenues are being explored to improve the service that we’re providing and maintain the rear yard in a more efficient manner,” Raymondi said.
The activity in the rear yard, which had problems with waste management in 2010, has some in the city questioning the motive behind the bid.
According to Joe Ferson, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, a complaint about environmental issues regarding the rear yard was filed in August 2011.
“We’re continuing to investigate this matter. We don’t have any additional comments, but hope to have it resolved fairly soon,” Ferson said.
Yet Raymondi is adamant that the bids are for reorganization purposes.
As for the cost, there is a chance that the venture might not cost the city anything.
“We will cross that bridge when we come to it,” Raymondi said. “I’m not convinced we should be paying anybody anything. We have a multi-anchor site that could be used by a private entity to recycle and compost and have that material at their disposal for them to use at their disposal. I’m not going to give in to that issue that it’s always costing the public money…
“I was looking for entities to come up with proposals that would challenge what we’re currently doing, and that hasn’t happened yet. But we’re still exploring,” Raymondi said.