China transfer station committee members, including Palermo representative Robert Kurek, had an amicable discussion at their Feb. 13 meeting, even though one of the topics was whether Palermo residents will continue to have access to the China facility.
As Kurek, China Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood and committee members summarized the situation, the two towns are in the seventh year of a 17-year contract, written and approved by China town officials, that lets Palermo residents share the transfer station, provided that:
— Palermo pays China an $18,000 annual fee (with no adjustment for inflation);
— Palermo residents buy and use colored bags (the bag price is adjustable, and Hapgood and Kurek agreed on a formula in 2022), but they are not charged for tags, stickers or similar identifying devices; and
— Palermo and China residents pay the same fees for bulky waste, white goods, furniture and other items for which fees are charged.
Hapgood, alleging that Palermo residents have violated contract provisions, sent Palermo the required year’s notice to end the contract for cause. Palermo’s attorney replied in January; she disputed the alleged violations and said there is no cause.
Sitting side by side at the Feb. 13 meeting, Kurek and Hapgood sparred politely over the frequency and seriousness of violations and whether Palermo has done enough to track down offenders. Main complaints are Palermo residents’ refusal to use proper bags or pay fees. They have also been charged with lending their transfer station identification cards to people from other towns.
Kurek said Palermo officials track down reported violators. Hapgood said she and other China staff spend time chasing Palermo residents.
No one denied that China residents, too, sometimes violate transfer station rules and are rude to staff. Committee member James Hines suggested charging individuals with theft of services, instead of pursuing an issue between the two towns.
Are your stickers uncooperative?
China residents, is your new transfer station sticker on the bottom right corner of your windshield uncooperative? Wrinkles, crinkles, falls off?
You’re not alone.
At the Feb. 13 transfer station committee meeting, Director of Public Services Shawn Reed said he had the same problem, despite carefully following the instructions town office staff offered when he bought the sticker.
Reed said he ended up taping the sticker to a piece of cardboard and standing it in the correct corner. Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said it’s okay to tape the sticker to the inside of the windshield, too.
Committee members suggested finding a new vendor who sells higher-quality stickers – if they don’t cost too much more.
Hapgood said she, Kurek and the two town attorneys have a meeting scheduled later this month.
The transfer station five-year plan for maintenance and improvements and the 2024-25 budget were the other main discussion topics.
Three items have been taken care of. Transfer station staffer Cheyenne “Cj” Houle said the new cover on the pre-crusher is installed and satisfactory (and paid for, Hapgood added). A recent $20,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will improve the composting area and fund the soon to be installed solar-powered lights in the free for the taking building.
Committee chairman Christopher Baumann recommended more publicity for the information that not everything can be left at the free for the taking building without paying the fee that is charged for furniture, computers and electronics and other items.
Transfer station users are charged for items for which the town pays disposal fees, regardless of how saleable they appear. Things that can be recycled or otherwise gotten rid of for free, like books and glassware, can be left without charge.
Hapgood suggested people use another alternative, especially for unneeded furniture: leave it at the end of the driveway with a “Free” sign.
Water quality remains an ongoing transfer station issue. Houle and Director of Public Services Shawn Reed said the well water has an unpleasant odor.
Reed explained that the well was drilled through ancient trash, because no one realized the landfill originally started at Alder Park Road, before moving north to create the now-capped trash mountain.
The water had been tested and ruled safe to drink, but last fall, DEP testing found PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination. Further information on remedies is pending.
Staff members wash their hands and clean equipment with the well water; they do not drink it.
Baumann described the transfer station staff as very professional and very polite and said the facility is well run. Kurek called it an asset to China.
Committee members scheduled their next meeting for 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 12.