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Irene Costs to Borough Estimated at $117,497

Amount could go higher, depending on the final expense of the Days Creek sinkhole repair.

Chatham Borough Council members had numerous commendations for the employees and volunteers who worked throughout Hurricane Irene at Monday night's meeting.

Administrator Robert Falzarano said estimates for overtime salaries, fuel, equipment, tree removal and road repair currently add up to $117,497.

Approximately $35,000 of that amount is for the repair to the sinkhole over Days Creek off of Van Doren Avenue, which exposed a 14-inch water supply pipe and threatened the borough's water supply. This number, Falzarano said, is still "tentative" and could increase.

"Our engineer, Vince DeNave, still has to firm up the cost for the repair to the culvert at [the bridge] and the water main shoring up," Falzarano said. "There was an extensive amount of work done there. It wasn't just refilling that sinkhole. We actually had to pour concrete on the entire base of that culvert inside, and had to shore up footings as well."

Borough Mayor Nelson Vaughan had a list of departments, staff members and residents to thank for their work during the hurricane, including all first responders and the police and Department of Public Works staff.

Vaughan also thanked Bob Weichert, owner of Chatham Main Construction, the company that repaired the sinkhole before the start of school on Sept. 6; B&B Disposal, who scheduled an early pickup in Chatham to help dispose of the waste; and borough resident and JCP&L employee Rob Kennedy, who headed the work crew which repaired several utility poles on town.

"I don't think we've had anything of that magnitute in Chatham for many, many years," said Mayor Nelson Vaughan.

All the council members also expressed their thanks. Bruce Harris especially noted Falzarano's efforts during the hurricane. "Most people don't know ... that he was juggling hurricane preparedness and his daughter's wedding [that weekend]," Harris said. "He was supposed to be off and he was here that Friday morning [preparing]."

Council Members Vicki Fife, John Holman and Len Resto discussed some possible improvements to the borough's website as a result of feedback received during the hurricane. "People were looking for more information than we had [available on the website]," Fife said. "Everybody knew that the town was being looked after, but ... there was no information continuing."

Resto said he received feedback from his neighbors as well. "A lot of people on my block were saying that they would have liked to go to the website and seen hurricane preparedness as something that had taken over the home page," Resto said. "i think we could have done that better."

Joe Marts, a formal mayor and council member, said the borough "did a fine job" repairing the sinkhole over Days Creek off of Van Doren Avenue and urged the council to pursue grants from the federal government and ask the County of Morris to pay for the balance. The county took ownership of the bridge when a retaining wall collapsed over a year ago.

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