Moran: ‘Everything is still on the table’ with transfer station

Moran: ‘Everything is still on the table’ with transfer station

PAWTUCKET – It’s still too early in the process to know how the city will proceed with the important issue of what to do with its waste transfer station on Grotto Avenue, said Council President David Moran this week.

Moran said he is still in the process of reviewing “some of” the three options mentioned in a letter to the council from Department of Public Works Director Eric Earls and reported on by The Breeze last week, “and I believe we are still deliberating the possibility of drafting a request for proposals for the potential ownership of a renovated existing facility,” he said.

“Everything is still on the table at this point,” he said. “There are the significant cost factors to consider along with potential impacts to the surrounding area and the city as a whole.”

Under option one presented by Earls, the facility would be renovated for a cost of $1.3 million to $2.5 million, and Waste Connections Inc. would continue operating it if it’s allowed the full permitted 650 tons of waste per day.

But some officials and Fairlawn residents have had frequent criticisms for the way WCI has run the facility, and Moran left the door open to moving on from the company.

After the City Council requested in the spring that Mayor Donald Grebien’s administration come up with options by Sept. 30, the mayor and his team presented three options on the Sept. 30 deadline. As reported last week, the other two options, according to the mayor, are:

• To build a waste-to-energy facility at the current property, though there are numerous regulatory hurdles involved with this plan due to the untested nature of the technology offered by two potential companies. This one should not be viewed as a short-term solution, according to Grebien.

• And closing the station and going to direct hauling from Pawtucket to the state landfill in Johnston, which would reduce available waste services for residents and would cost an extra $1.3 million per year. The increased DPW operations and added curbside costs would total $2.9 million, more than doubling the city’s current cost.

“After looking at all of the alternatives, the closure of the transfer station would create a real financial hardship given the costs,” said Earls this week.

On a separate but connected front, the DPW has made the recommendation to the council to go to automated weekly trash collections similar to current recycling service.

The transfer station is a direct benefit to the residents who utilize the facility on a regular basis to dispose of several types of trash, says Earls. There are 1,000 monthly transactions to dispose trash items. The ability to dispose of materials there reduces costs for residents, who would otherwise have to dispose of their trash items at the Central Landfill in Johnston, which has higher disposal fees.

The DPW currently receives about 10 to 20 calls per week from residents reporting items that have been illegally dumped, says Earls. If the transfer station were no longer available, officials estimate illegal dumps would easily double.

Trash from municipal buildings and parks also goes to the transfer station.

To maintain the same level of service, officials say additional operational costs would include:

• Replacing DPW vehicles to sustain the regular mileage to the Central Landfill;

• A significant increase in fuel costs due to multiple daily trips to Johnston;

• Additional maintenance requirements for vehicles;

• And time spent going back and forth to Johnston.

The DPW estimates that these additional operational demands would cost roughly $1.6 million to implement, for a combined cost of $2.9 million when factoring in direct hauling by waste service provider MTG.

“The Department of Public Works has provided the City Council with a number of options for the transfer station as per the resolution,” said Grebien in a statement this week. “We cannot keep kicking the can down the road on this issue. We look forward to working with the council and residents once they weigh the facts that have been presented and select the best possible option for all of Pawtucket’s taxpayers.”