CAPE ELIZABETH — A plan to borrow $1.4 million to upgrade the town’s solid waste transfer station is set to go before the Town Council on Monday and to voters on June 14.

The plan would replace the use of the existing compactor building, where residents toss trash into a large, below-ground-level hopper, with several smaller, drive-by compactors for either household or recyclable waste. The smaller compactors would be outdoors and easily accessible along three one-way lanes.

The recommended redesign would make the 37-year-old transfer station safer, more accessible, more efficient and more economical, said Councilor Jessica Sullivan, chairwoman of the Solid Waste and Recycling Long-Range Planning Committee.

“It’s really going to better serve all age groups, particularly our older residents,” Sullivan said. “The satellite compactors have a low opening that will make them much easier for everyone to use and people won’t have to lug their trash so far.”

The committee developed the $1.4 million plan following a November 2014 accident that killed 79-year-old Herbert Dennison. He was in the compactor building, throwing trash into the hopper, when a vehicle driven by 72-year-old Christine Sharp-Lopez backed into Dennison and pushed him into the hopper, which wasn’t operating at the time.

After the accident, the town changed the traffic pattern at the transfer station to eliminate backing up to the compactor and required residents to carry trash into the building. The town also accelerated its effort to address known safety concerns at the transfer station and appointed the ad hoc committee to recommend an improvement plan.

If voters approve the $1.4 million bond issue, construction would start in early 2017, said Town Manager Mike McGovern.

In the committee’s report, the town’s engineering firm estimated that the cost of improvements would be $1.3 million, with an annual operating budget of about $590,000, including capital payments. The refuse and recycling budget for the current year is about $487,000.

The committee also considered leaving the transfer station as is and making only necessary repairs to the compactor building, which could cost about $575,000 annually.

Implementing a curbside trash and recycling collection program, which doesn’t have much support according to a recent town survey, would cost about $775,000 annually.

The council voted 6-1 on Jan. 4 to adopt the $1.4 million plan and authorize the town manager to develop a bond issue and ballot question. The town charter requires voter approval of capital expenditures over $1 million. The $1.4 million includes bond-issuing fees and other costs.

Councilor Sullivan noted that the smaller outdoor compactors would crush household and recyclable waste so much more effectively that they would reduce the overall volume of waste and save the town about $50,000 per year in hauling costs to the ecomaine solid waste plant in Portland.

The plan also calls for a bypass lane for residents who want to use other services at the transfer station. Traffic islands would separate vehicles heading for the bottle shed or the swap shop, where residents can trade gently used and collectible items.

The compactor building would be re-purposed as a collection site for electronic and universal waste, as well as for offices and the town’s radio communications system.

Also Monday, the council will consider borrowing $700,000 for improvements to the Donald Richards Community Pool.


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