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The Villages
Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Villages officials sign off on debris collection contracts having learned painful lessons from Hurricane Irma

Community Development Districts in The Villages are contracting with debris collection companies having learned painful lessons from last year’s Hurricane Irma.

Debris piled up and remained uncollected for weeks after the hurricane struck this past September.

The Villages CDDs had contracted with Crowder Gulf ahead of the hurricane, but that company’s subcontractors headed south for more lucrative deals in debris collection.

Frustrated residents reached a boiling point in the weeks after Irma and there was widespread dumping of debris at recreation centers and postal stations.

Plastic and paper bags were among Hurricane Irma debris dumped at Laurel Manor Recreation Center.

District Manager Richard Baier described the new contracts as a “belt and suspenders” approach.

The new contracts are not being awarded to the lowest bidder.

Instead, District staff examined details, including whether the companies have owned rather than leased equipment.

“We prioritized their ability to respond,” Baier said.

Awarding contracts to three different companies protects The Villages from being the victim of the whim of a single company.

The companies being contracted with are Ceres Environmental Services Inc., Phillips and Jordan Inc. and Hamlet Underground LLC. Ceres Environmental Services Inc. also recently contracted with Sumter County.

Among the provisions of the contracts is one that would allow the companies to be part of the District’s Emergency Operations Center and be part of logistical planning before, during and after the storm. The companies also will have a plan “upfront.”

Community Development District 6 Chairman Sally Moss asked what would keep the companies from bailing out the way in which it occurred during Hurricane Irma.

Baier said “mechanisms in the contracts” would keep them here.

“Unfortunately, we are all smarter today than we were before the last hurricane,” said CDD 6 Supervisor John Calandro.

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