FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield’s total cost of Hurricane Sandy-related cleanup and repairs could be more than $8.8 million, according to the latest estimates. The town’s leaders hope that federal reimbursements will pay about 75 percent of that, leaving about $2.1 million that Fairfield’s taxpayers will have to cover.
Fairfield has already spent about $3.6 million in overtime wages and equipment costs for work during and immediately after the storm, Chief Fiscal Officer Robert Mayer said Wednesday. Of that, Fairfield will have to pay about $900,000 if the Federal Emergency Management Agency pays out at its usual reimbursement rate of 75 percent.
But the town will also have to rebuild or repair town infrastructure and facilities damaged by Sandy. Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo estimated those repairs to cost more than $5.2 million. Expected FEMA grants would cover all but $1.3 million of that, if Congress approves the full package proposed by the president.
“We’d like to make the assumption that we’re going to go through and get our 75 percent approved,” First Selectman Michael Tetreau said Wednesday. “The practical reality is, we don’t know that based on what comes out of D.C. in the next few days, few weeks or few months ahead.”
The largest single project will be $1 million in repairs to Penfield Pavilion. The 2-year-old building sustained structural damage to its footings, floors and decks. The town will need to repair the damage before the pavilion can reopen to the public. Public Works will also raise the building and make other changes to prevent similar damage in the future.
The town also needs to dredge the entrances to South Benson Marina, Southport Harbor and the Pine Creek inlet to remove sand and debris that washed up during the storm. Fairfield’s public beaches will also need about 20,000 cubic yards of sand to replace what was lost during Sandy.
Another $520,000 is expected to go toward repairs to Fairfield Beach Road. Stretches of pavement were torn up on the street’s western sections during Sandy. The town will need to replace the pavement and underlying groundwork and drainage. Crews will also replace the bulkhead and retaining wall near the road’s turnaround section.
Other projects include replacing the South Benson Fishing Pier, the concession stands at Sasco and Southport Beach, the Southport Beach Seawall and the Pine Creek dike, and making other minor road and building repairs along the shoreline. In total, Michelangelo outlined 24 repair projects to return Fairfield to where it was before the storm.
“We’re just going to restore what was there for the past several generations,” Michelangelo said. “The usage will be in kind, but we’ll build it to current standards so that it doesn’t happen again.”