Paver Projects at Trash Sites Raise Questions

WSVN — Miami-Dade County is looking at deep cuts to balance the budget, so why was money spent to make dump sites look better? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.

It is the place to go to dump old furniture, tree trimmings and other garbage. A Miami-Dade County trash and recycling center might be the last place you would expect to see thousands of brand new pavers, leaving some taxpayers wondering if this is a good way to spend public dollars.

Carlos Martinez: “It looks nice, but it’s a lot of wasted space.”

Jason Gomez: “Pavers, really, to park your truck? That’s a little ridiculous, I think.”

Taxpayer: “In my opinion, that our money should have been spent, maybe for something more feasible than pavers. I mean, I’d love to have pavers at my house, but I can’t afford it.”

Another taxpayer sent this e-mail to 7News, with the subject line “Dade County wasting money,” also questioning the use of pavers over asphalt at dump sites. That taxpayer added trucks could leak, and then, “[T]he pavers will look like [expletive] in no time.”

Carmel Cafiero: “So, we set out to answer that question sent to our inbox. Was installing these pavers at waste sites a waste of money?”

The county’s claim: No, it was not a waste, and it was actually cheaper than asphalt.

Paul Mauriello: “The original reason to go with the paver is that it’s a better solution for us, both cost-wise and aesthetically.”

It cost the county $768,062 to put these pavers in three of the county’s 13 trash sites. Asphalt, they say, would have been more expensive because of costly extras, like pipes and trenches, that are required to drain storm water. The county says the pavers used are hollow, making them cheaper because the water can drain through.

After all was said and done, the county says it saved almost $14,000 by choosing pavers over asphalt.

Paul Mauriello: “I think that this is a good investment for the long term.”

But why were such large areas in need of any type of pavement at all? Customers who drive in to dump trash would not even have to drive over them.

Paul Mauriello: “We are mainly doing it to improve the parking situation out here for our trucks, as well as our county employees.”

The county says employees had been parking on the grass, where standing water would accumulate after heavy rains. And we did find some standing water at other trash sites we visited.

Paul Mauriello: “These three centers, in particular, have drainage problems. If you were here after a large rainstorm, you would have seen quite a bit of standing water out here. There was a lot of mud.”

Mayor Carlos Giménez recently announced the county is facing a budget shortfall. While the money used for the employee parking lots did not come from the general county fund, homeowners still paid for these pavers out of the fee paid for garbage pick-up. That fee, the mayor says, is not going up. And while in tough times, some may question whether the beautiful pavers were a good use of taxpayer money, the mayor defends the decision.

Mayor Carlos Giménez: “Yes, they’re nicer looking, and yes, they were cheaper. That’s the information I got from the department.”

The county says, at this time there are no plans to instal paverinstallny of the other 10 locations. Carmel Cafiero, 7News.

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