Fire Island storm cleanup suspended

Large piles of debris still sit on the Large piles of debris still sit on the front lawns of some of the homes in Ocean Beach before a major FEMA/Army Corps of Engineers debris clean-up of Fire Island. (Jan. 18, 2013) Photo Credit: Ed Betz

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Six days after it was awarded, an $8.8 million contract for removal of storm debris from Fire Island has been suspended, a spokesman from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

DS3 Enterprises Inc. of Central Islip was ordered Thursday to stop work on the contract because the Army Corps received a protest from another bidder. The agency did not identify the company or the nature of the protest.

The cleanup was announced in December, more than a month after superstorm Sandy, which officials said destroyed or damaged about half of the island's roughly 4,000 homes.

Officials announced the contract award on Jan. 25, and Army Corps spokesman John Campbell, from the Field Recovery Office in Manhattan, said cleanup of about 82,500 cubic yards of debris from the narrow island and national park was expected to begin this weekend or next week.

"The corps remains committed to working through this issue to find a solution so we can clean up the amount of debris that remains on Fire Island," Campbell said. "We know that debris continues to pose a significant health and safety threat, and we're committed to safely removing the debris as quickly as we can."

According to a news release the Army Corps issued last week, the project must be completed by the end of March. Hauling debris on the beach will be restricted after March 15 because of the nesting season of the piping plover bird, the release indicated.

Campbell said the cessation could last "from a few days to a few months, just depending on how things go . . . If we can convince the contractor there's not merit to their protest, they may withdraw it fairly quickly and work resumes. If the contractor persists and tries to fight things harder, obviously it takes longer to find a resolution to these things."

A representative from DS3 Enterprises said the company had no comment.

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