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After Limited Use, Town Parts Ways With $243K Excavator

The often criticized Menzi Muck excavator and trailer have been sold to a municipality in New Jersey for $90,000.

Deciding to cut its losses and move on, the Harrison Town Board has voted to sell a Menzi Muck excavator originally purchased for $243,000 to a municipality in New Jersey for $90,000.

The machine, purchased in 2007, was intended work on streams and brooks to battle flooding. Considered state of the art at the time, the machine has sat idle for four years because of technical problems and a lack manpower to use it, said Commissioner of Public Works Anthony Robinson.

After the board voted to accept bids to sell the machine in 2011, offers topped at $40,000. Earlier this spring Woodbridge, NJ, offered $90,000 for the piece of machinery and Harrison accepted the offer on Feb. 29.

"We decided to let it go rather than hold on to it longer and who knows, we might have lost more money," said Harrison Mayor/Supervisor Ron Belmont (R).

But not everyone on the town board supported the sale. Councilman Stephen Malfitano (R), who was supervisor when the machine was originally purchased, voted against the transaction, saying he is frustrated that the town can't find use for the machine.

"As a board member, I have to express my extreme displeasure," Malfitano said, according to minutes from the Feb. 29 meeting. "As taxpayers we expended some $243,000 to buy a piece of equipment that we never used. There is something wrong with that."

Other board members, however, said with an offer on the table more than doubling the previous high bid, now is the time to part ways with the Menzi Muck excavator.

"The longer it sits, the less you are going to get for it," Councilman Fred Sciliano (R) said, according to meeting minutes. "I think we should just take our losses and move on."

Sciliano, Belmont and Councilwoman Marlane Amelio (R) voted to sell the machine. Malfitano voted against the sale, Councilman Joseph Cannella (R) abstained.

Although the town did have success with the machine in some areas, Robinson said the town's overall use for the machine "may have been overstated", adding that he doesn't have anyone trained to use the machine or available to use it because of cuts in his department.

Since voting to accept bids for the machine in 2011, Harrison also contacted Westchester County and surrounding municipalities hoping to find an interested party, with no luck.

Woodbridge, NJ, came with an offer in early March. The municipality hopes to use it for the same purposes Harrison had originally planned, according to a .

"It works off a bridge, it can go into seven feet of water," said Woodbridge Director of Public Works Dennis Henry as he explained the advantages of the excavator . "We hope to use it to pull out silt and muck and give relief to homeowners."

Harrison's last use of the machine occurred shortly after it was purchased, when the machine was used successfully in the area behind , Robinson said. But since then, the town hasn't been able to find use for it.

The sale offers an opportunity to accept the loss and move on.

"It went in the garage and just sat there," said Belmont. "That's not good, what good is it doing? You keep waiting, (the offer) may go down further in price."

Zach Oliva March 22, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Thanks Naomi, and good idea. I'll follow up with them for an update in a few months.
NAO March 22, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Zach, Thank you. Naomi
grassroots March 22, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Great Idea selling it and cutting our losses.If one is ever needed it can be rented.Why did'nt Malfatano think of that back in 2007,he's susposed to have financial expertise.
NAO March 23, 2012 at 02:48 AM
It is really easy in hindsight to judge someone saying that they should have done something 5 years ago. You cannot change the past. You can only change the future. So why judge the board on what they are doing now and stop holding the past against them (it does not mean that the past is not an opportunity to learn but you cannot let it run your life).
grassroots March 23, 2012 at 03:49 PM
NAO Im not trying to change the past,however alot of info has come to light as to the bad financial decisions that were made back in2005-2007.Now we have the mayor from that era back on the town board.He also voted against selling the dredger.I Am concerned about his agenda.

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