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Watertown City Council considers tree debris contract

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WATERTOWN — The tons of fallen tree limbs and other debris that resulted from the Dec. 21 ice storm most likely will end up being ground up by a Black River company and taken to its cogeneration plant at Fort Drum.

The Watertown City Council will consider hiring ReEnergy Holdings LLC to use all of the ice storm debris as fuel for its Black River biomass facility at Fort Drum. The council is expected to approve a contract with the company at a meeting at 7 p.m. today in the third-floor chambers of City Hall, 245 Washington St.

ReEnergy Holdings offered to dispose of the debris at no charge to the city, according to a memo by Senior Planner Michael A. Lumbis, who has worked on the contract.

City Department of Public Works crews are working with a Lacona logging company and a local construction company to pick up the debris. The crews will complete three passes around the city and take 1,000 to 1,200 dump truck loads of limbs to the city-owned quarry just north of the city off Route 11.

Under the deal’s terms, ReEnergy will bring equipment and crews to the city’s green waste disposal facility at the old quarry, Mr. Lumbis wrote.

The operation will not begin for another four to six weeks, he said. “They want the material to pile up more before they start,” he said, adding it will take several weeks to complete.

Under the agreement, the city can haul material that crews already chipped directly to the plant at Fort Drum for unloading. In that case, ReEnergy would pay the city $24 per ton.

ReEnergy Holdings also will handle the city’s waste wood products in the future. The city can save about $10,000 per year by not hiring another firm to do the work, he said.

Council members also are expected to schedule a public hearing for 7:30 p.m. June 2 to invite public input on a zoning change for 111 Chestnut St. This is part of a plan to build a 4,000-square-foot McDonald’s restaurant at Chestnut and Washington streets.

The city’s Planning Board unanimously voted down the zoning change last week after residents opposed the project. Residents voiced concerns about potential traffic, noise and odor.

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