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Some residents criticize Northampton post-dump plan

  • The Glendale Road landfill is shown, Wednesday, in Northampton. the transfer station will close, except for big items, on Saturday. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    The Glendale Road landfill is shown, Wednesday, in Northampton. the transfer station will close, except for big items, on Saturday.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Glendale Road landfill worker Wayne Allen uses a truck to crush trash, Wednesday, in Northampton. The transfer station will be closing, Saturday, except for big items.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Glendale Road landfill worker Wayne Allen uses a truck to crush trash, Wednesday, in Northampton. The transfer station will be closing, Saturday, except for big items.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Residents Stefan and Bettina Kollmeier of Northampton use the Glendale Road transfer station, Wednesday, to dispose of a couch. The station will be closing, except for big items, on Saturday.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Residents Stefan and Bettina Kollmeier of Northampton use the Glendale Road transfer station, Wednesday, to dispose of a couch. The station will be closing, except for big items, on Saturday.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • A rigid plastic bin is shown at the Glendale Road transfer station, Wednesday. The station, located in Northampton, will be closing except for big items on Saturday.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    A rigid plastic bin is shown at the Glendale Road transfer station, Wednesday. The station, located in Northampton, will be closing except for big items on Saturday.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Glendale Road landfill worker Wayne Allen uses a truck to crush trash, Wednesday, in Northampton. The transfer station will be closing, Saturday, except for big items.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Glendale Road landfill worker Wayne Allen uses a truck to crush trash, Wednesday, in Northampton. The transfer station will be closing, Saturday, except for big items.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Glendale Road landfill is shown, Wednesday, in Northampton. the transfer station will close, except for big items, on Saturday. <br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Glendale Road landfill worker Wayne Allen uses a truck to crush trash, Wednesday, in Northampton. The transfer station will be closing, Saturday, except for big items.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Residents Stefan and Bettina Kollmeier of Northampton use the Glendale Road transfer station, Wednesday, to dispose of a couch. The station will be closing, except for big items, on Saturday.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • A rigid plastic bin is shown at the Glendale Road transfer station, Wednesday. The station, located in Northampton, will be closing except for big items on Saturday.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Glendale Road landfill worker Wayne Allen uses a truck to crush trash, Wednesday, in Northampton. The transfer station will be closing, Saturday, except for big items.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

City officials and the Board of Public Works, however, said far more residents visit the centrally located Locust Street station than the landfill’s more remote Glendale Road site. Plus, it’s not financially feasible to keep both stations open, they said.

“I’m sure some people will feel that they are being inconvenienced, especially the ones that live locally and use this facility (Glendale) on a regular basis,” DPW Director Ned Huntley said.

With the closing of the landfill now just weeks away — Huntley estimates the landfill will be full in May — the BPW’s plan for what residents will do with their trash is set to take effect Monday.

That plan converts the landfill’s Glendale Road site into a Saturday-only transfer station for hard-to-manage waste materials and periodic leaf and yard waste collection. The facility is now open six days a week for trash and recycling.

The transfer station at Locust Street, meanwhile, will stay open Monday through Saturday as the only option for solid waste disposal and recycling collection.

Residents Robert Gould and Robert Weir said the Locust Street site is too small and is located off busy Route 9 by a school and hospital, compared to the more spacious and rural Glendale Road.

They question the decision to keep open a congested site that is often so busy back-ups on Route 9 occur and police officers must direct traffic. They question how the site will be able to handle more traffic, especially on Saturdays.

“I don’t really have a dog in this race, but it strikes me as a bit illogical to use Locust Street,” Weir said.

Weir realizes that people like to visit Locust Street on weekends and use it as a chance to socialize, but he said sentiment is not a good reason to stop using the Glendale Road station already located at a dump site.

“I don’t think it’s good public policy,” Weir said. “No matter what happens people are going to be inconvenienced.”

Gould agrees and suggests staggering the days that both stations are open as a possible solution to alleviate the potential traffic problems.

“If you keep Glendale open Friday and Saturday, that would help tremendously with Locust Street,” Gould said. “I believe there are a lot of people in the Florence area who use Glendale who are upset.”

Ward 6 City Council Marianne L. LaBarge, whose ward includes the landfill, said she’s heard from many residents unhappy about the BPW plan.

“I think Glendale Road should have been the option,” LaBarge said, adding later that she would also be open to splitting the time that each transfer station is open.

Not perfect

Huntley acknowledges that Locust Street is not a perfect site, but a majority of the city’s residents who have vehicle permits prefer to drop their blue bags and recycling there when compared to Glendale.

There are other factors working against the Glendale location. Huntley said the site is not registered or permitted as a transfer station, but instead has operated as a citizen drop-off because of the landfill associated with it.

The city has submitted an application with the state Department of Environmental Protection to make Glendale an official transfer station, but as of now the “landfill is not a true transfer station permitted by the state,” Huntley said.

Additionally, the city does not own the compactors and other equipment at the Glendale Road facility and would need to invest about $100,000 in capital to replace those items.

“It would be a big investment to do something,” Huntley said. “To pick up Locust Street and move out here would be a big investment also.”

Such an investment is not possible right now, nor does it make financial sense to operate stations at both locations, BPW Chairman Terry Culhane said. Doing so would require a significant increase in fees and probably force people to look for cheaper options elsewhere, he said.

“The city was fairly clear that whatever we do is a model sustained by fees only,” Culhane said. “Many people have been vocal about having to keep our prices down.”

Traffic study

City officials are concerned about how busy it may get at Locust Street on Saturdays. The DPW is conducting a traffic study that will continue for several weeks after the new program begins, and officials will use the figures from that study to gauge how many more vehicles are visiting Locust.

That may lead to some changes, such as shifting the hours or opening on Sunday instead of slower days like Tuesday and Wednesday, Huntley said.

LaBarge is most concerned about the lack of public discussion that went into the decision.

“I really feel as a city councilor that there should have been a public discussion on this,” LaBarge. “Like many people, I’m concerned about having it open at just the Locust Street site.”

At-Large City Council Jesse M. Adams said he too has heard from residents who question keeping Locust Street open at the expense of Glendale Road, though he said he has no issues with the decision.

“It seems to me that one of them had to be closed,” Adams said. “I’m happy to hear the reasoning behind it, but it sounds like a sound plan.”

The issue was expected to come up Monday at a meeting of the City Council/Board of Public Works Conference Committee. Weir said he planned to attend, though he wonders if it’s “window dressing” considering the city has already sent out postcards announcing the change.

Culhane said the board has been discussing its post-landfill options in a public way for some time and the current plan came about as a result of that process.

“The process was as public as with anything we do,” he said. “And I don’t see a lot of other options. I’d love to see a fully featured option, but we’re acutely conscious of being constrained by the amount of money we can raise.”

The planning began with the Solid Waste Reduction and Management Task Force, which two years ago recommended the city keep its current system of solid waste disposal in place.

The BPW, however, felt running two stations was simply too high, especially given he steady decline in the amount of trash the city is taking in, Culhane said.

An original projection to keep both stations open would have meant vehicle permit stickers as much as three times the $25 people now pay, as well as large increases in trash bag costs.

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