PITTSTON — The Board of Selectmen will have the town’s sand tested Monday following complaints from a snowplowing contractor who quit earlier this month because of the quality of the sand.

The issue came to light Nov. 3, the day after the season’s first major snowstorm, when Gregory Lumbert, of L&L Services, informed the board he would be resigning because of the sand.

Lumbert, of Pittston, said the sand wasn’t funneling properly to his plow trucks’ spreaders, forcing his plow drivers to stop periodically to knock the sand down manually. He said he had to back out of the contract because the sand prevented him from doing the job described in the contract. Lumbert already had invested $30,000 in a truck to do the route, he said.

Lumbert told the board Wednesday that when he had the sand tested himself, the results showed the sand was too fine and did not meet town specifications. When sand is too fine, it can clump together and form mud more easily.

Because Lumbert quit, the board advertised for bids from other contractors to plow 13.5 miles of roads on the town’s east side, but there were no bids to open by Thursday’s deadline.

Jane Hubert, chairwoman of the board, said one contractor had submitted a bid but withdrew it Thursday morning. The board put the contract out to bid again and hopes to receive bids to open at its next meeting, on Dec. 3, Hubert said.

Hubert said she’s also hoping to hear back about the results from S.W. Cole Engineering, Inc., the firm collecting the sand sample Monday, by the board’s next meeting.

“If it is inferior, it must be corrected, so our plowers don’t have a problem plowing our roads. That’s the bottom line,” she said.

Hubert said the sand met the specifications when tested by the road commissioner, Sam Snow, who won the contract this year to provide 3,000 cubic yards of sand for $31,500.

Steve McGee, a Pittston resident and owner of McGee Construction, said at the meeting Wednesday that the board has about $42,000 worth of material that doesn’t meet specifications because salt was mixed in with the sand. McGee, who plowed the town’s roads last year and provides sand to several area towns, didn’t bid on the sand contract.

“I feel that these contractors are being set up to fail,” McGee told the board Wednesday.

Pittston split its snowplowing contract into three routes this year to try to save money. The other two contractors, Goodall Landscaping, in Topsham, and Jeffrey Ricker, of Pittston, didn’t previously report having problems with the sand, Hubert said, but Goodall Landscaping did confirm having a similar problem after the board asked about it.

Hubert said the board will look into its options if the test shows the sand doesn’t meet the town’s specifications. She said the town might be able to add new sand to it, or the town might have to replace all of it.

If roads need to be plowed before the town finds a new contractor for the third route, the road commissioner will either do the plowing himself or assign the other two plowing contractors to do the work, Hubert said.

She said because an article in the annual town warrant requires all contracts of more than $5,000 to go out to bid, the board plans to hold a special town meeting at some point to add an exemption in the policy for emergencies such as this.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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