Barry on killing rats: Just do it

Barry on killing rats: Just do it

PAWTUCKET – The rats need to go, and by any means possible, says City Councilor John Barry III.

The council last week went back and forth over the process for hiring pest control companies to address the city’s growing rodent infestation, but Barry said he’s not worried about any of that. Instead, he said, he’s concerned about residents having to deal with an out-of-control rodent situation.

Councilor Mark Wildenhain had raised the question of why the city is going out to bid for abatement services when $22,000 was already being spent on hiring a company to do three months’ worth of work. He said some Purchasing Board members expressed concern to him about a lack of a bidding process for that work.

But Councilors Barry and Terry Mercer said the administration was simply following the council’s demand to call in companies on an emergency basis. Waiting for a request for proposals process to conclude will simply set the city further back in terms of addressing the situation, said Mercer.

The council ended up approving another letter at the request of Barry to have the administration call in as many companies as it takes to handle the situation.

“I don’t care what the Purchasing Board’s issue is, we need to take care of the problem,” said Barry, saying he also isn’t losing sleep over spending $22,000 to address the rodent problem.

Dylan Zelazo, director of administration for Mayor Donald Grebien, said the $22,000 spent was part of the first emergency phase of what the council previously requested. An existing vendor that already does pest control services on city buildings is simply being used for different services now, he said.

The city separately sought bids from vendors for services, he said, but not as an emergency procurement.

“Once we go through that process, we’ll have multiple vendors on board,” he said.

Zelazo said there was some confusion among council members because the Purchasing Board matter seeking quotes was thought to be the only initiative going on, and a bidding process would have slowed down the process. Barry was unaware that the administration was doing the emergency piece with the current company, he said.

Also at the Sept. 9 council meeting, the council considered a proposed extension on a lease agreement with T-Mobile to use the smokestack at the old incinerator on Grotto Avenue for its antenna array. The company originally signed a 10-year lease, with an automatic renewal for five years, and that five-year extension is up at the end of this month.

The company was seeking an amendment for four additional five-year terms, each auto-renewing, but City Solicitor Frank Milos said after conversations with officials, the city was not comfortable committing to 20 years, particularly with all the development going on in the area. Nothing drastic is planned there in the next five years, he said, and the city could potentially negotiate further terms.

Milos recommended language changes requiring T-Mobile to make upgrades to the smokestack if needed.

Councilor Mark Wildenhain was among those who said a 5 percent increase per year on the lease agreement is more reasonable than the 3 percent currently in place, but Thomas Russo, representing T-Mobile, said the company typically tries to keep increases to 3 percent. Russo said rather than going back and forth in negotiations, he suggested that the council compromise with a 4 percent escalator increase annually on a lease payment that’s currently at about $33,000 per year.

Russo noted that T-Mobile isn’t getting what it wants with an extended term, and 4 percent might be an easier sell to avoid a month-to-month agreement.

Council members ultimately agreed that 4 percent was a fair trade-off for T-Mobile getting a shorter term and being required to foot the bill for any repairs to the smokestack.