The Farmingdale Board of Selectmen and snowplow contractor Ellis Construction agreed Wednesday night to terminate the three-year plowing contract effective immediately and only a year after signing the agreement.

The board voted unanimously to end the contract about an hour and a half after going into executive session with the owners of the Farmingdale-based construction company and the town attorney.

Both sides will exchange agreements releasing each other from any future liability regarding the three-year, $487,500 contract, according to David Sirois, chairman of the board. The town has already paid Ellis Construction $162,500 for the first year of the contract.

The winter maintenance contract has been a frequent target of criticism from a small group of residents ever since the board awarded it to Ellis Construction a year ago. Complaints ranged from a rival plowing contractor accusing Ellis Construction of not meeting equipment requirements at the start of the season to some residents saying the select board shouldn’t have allowed the contractor to bill the town for additional work done to take care of refrozen roads and for filling the sand box at the town office.

Sirois said the board will draft a new contract and issue a request for proposals as soon as possible. The board will take care of the vague portions of the contract that led to some of the disagreements, he said.

“I’m not sure what the contract will look like in the end, but we are going to work on it diligently and come up with a better document, that’s for sure,” Sirois said Thursday.

The new contract will be easier for the board to enforce and will ensure contractors know what’s expected of them, he said.

Sirois said the board decided it was in the town’s best interest to end the contract because of the climate in town and the ambiguities in the contract.

“We’re going to learn from this experience, and we’re going to move forward,” he said.

The owners of Ellis Construction who met with the board, Angie and Chis Ellis, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The company recently won another snowplowing contract with a nearby town. The Randolph Board of Selectmen awarded the town’s snowplowing contract to Ellis Construction in June. Ellis Construction bid $186,000 for a three-year contract, while the Farmingdale contractor that had plowed Randolph’s roads for decades, E.C. Barry and Son, bid $72,487 for one year.

The Farmingdale board held a public hearing last week to give residents a chance to voice their concerns about the contract and ask the town attorney questions. After meeting in executive session following the public hearing, the board voted to not pursue legal action over questions about whether the contractor met the requirements for liquid calcium chloride use last winter.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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