By Genevieve Reilly

A complicated bid request and more questions from bidders than expected are behind a request from the Department of Public Works and the Purchasing Department to extend the town's expired contract with GreenCycle, the operator of the town's yard waste center on One Rod Highway.

However, the members of the Board of Selectmen last week weren't ready to vote on the request because they also had questions, not just about the bid, but also about the way the facilities are run.

GreenCycle's contract expired at the end of last year, and public works officials wanted to extend it through this December in order to give them enough time to put together a new bid proposal, seek responses and evaluate the bids.

Public Works Director Richard White said if a different vendor is chosen, GreenCycle will have to clear the yard of any materials. Moving piles of compost, leaves, soil and wood chips is best done in the colder months, White said, because the cooler temperatures help to cut down on the odor produced when those piles are disturbed.

"It's not a good idea to dig into those piles in the summertime," White said, something that officials learned from experience.

But Jon Damon, of Good Earth Tree Co., said it should only take four or five hours to clean the site of materials if a new vendor were awarded a contract. Giving GreenCycle a contract extension raises the question of fairness to other companies interested in bidding on the waste center, said Damon, who runs similar operations in other municipalities.

"I would really object to allowing GreenCycle the opportunity to stay there another year," he said.

The selectmen suggested the town look into the possibility of a month-to-month lease until an acceptable bid proposal is created, and also asked White to see how yard waste operations are managed in other communities, including when contracts take effect and whether the host communities receive revenue from the centers.

The current structure of the contract doesn't call for the town to receive any revenue, although that was not the case when the yard waste operations first opened 15 years ago. Ed Boman, assistant public works director, said that it ended up being a "wash," with the town paying the operator about the same amount it received in revenue.

The town, however, does receive a certain amount of free mulch from GreenCycle for use on municipal property and local residents can bring their yard waste to the facility at no charge and receive up to 3 yards of free mulch.

greilly@ctpost.com; 203-556-2771; http://twitter.com/GreillyPost