WARWICK — The city of Warwick is looking into ways to bring down costs after bids for the Buckeye Brook project came in higher than expected. The project also faced hurdles as it was put out to bid in the spring of 2020 when COVID hit.
“Over time there has been phragmite growth within the brook and the root mass is actually obstructing flow coming out of Warwick Pond thereby increasing the level of the pond,” Warwick’s Engineering Program Manager Eric Hindinger told City Council members Wednesday night during his quarterly report. “What we’d like to do is get in there, spray the phragmite, remove the root mass and restore the actual channel of the brook so that water levels return to normal levels.”
There have been significant flooding issues discovered in Warwick Pond where Buckeye Brook empties into, affecting area residents.
But the city has come up short on funding. Bids for the project came in between $1.7 million and $1.4 million. Because none of the bids came in on or under budget, Hindinger said they couldn’t continue the project and they are now exploring other options to bring down the costs. Currently $1 million is earmarked for the project which the city’s engineering department obtained through a disaster recovery funding grant last year.
Council President Steven Merolla asked if there was a possibility of going back to the Rhode Island Airport Corporation since a lot of the changes in the streams have been linked to airport discharge.
“This is on their property … the Rhode Island Airport Corporation needs to fix its own problems on its own property and if we have a million dollar grant to fix them, I would think they would come up with the $400,000 to fix this problem,” Merolla said. “Because it’s a significant problem for the residents that wasn’t created by the residents.”
Hindiger said since the project is on airport property they are fully aware and the city has their permission to work on it. “We have had some discussions informally with them. Obviously if we do spend all the money on this we don’t want it to revert back where it is,” he said. “Seeing it is on their property we would hope they would maintain it.”
Council Member Timothy Howe reminded the council that they did put forward a request asking the state to assist with finances on this project because the city is picking up the tab.
“Again Mayor Solomon and community development agreed to pick up the tab because as you (Merolla) said it’s a Warwick issue, but not Warwick property affecting Warwick residents, especially in that pond area where they are losing their property to the rising waters. It’s not caused by Global warming, it’s caused by phragmites,” Howe said.
For now, unfortunately, Hindiger said, the project will have to go out to bid again to get the precise amount needed for project completion and hopes the bids will come in lower. “We did the bidding in the middle of a pandemic which may have affected them and maybe they’ll be lower this time. I’m not sure,” he said.