Transfer Station Makeover Price Drops

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Infrastructure , Recycling and Solid Waste

The current transfer station and recycling center suffers from confusing traffic flow, safety and noise problems and inefficiency, town officials say. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM Armed with firmer design figures, detailed cost estimates and a sharp pencil, a consultant now says the renovation of the town transfer station would likely cost $4.5 million, rather than the $7.5 to $8.5 million projected last year.

The goal, said Mike Richard of Weston and Sampson, is to make the facility more user-friendly and efficient, to make vehicle traffic patterns less confusing, and to reduce the nuisances of odors, windblown litter and noise. Improving the facility will also allow the town to address issues of employee safety and comfort, he told the board of selectmen Monday.

Based on an alternative chosen by the board last fall, Richard refined a plan that routes commercial trash haulers to the tipping building on the right, while residents drive to the left to drop off trash and recyclables. The plan seeks to use more compactors for waste and recyclables and to move commercial recycling indoors. Difficult-to-manage waste like appliances and mattresses would be moved closer to the scale house for more careful supervision, and the swap shop would be kept just inside the front gate, away from other operations.

The preliminary cost estimates were high because they carried extra funds to cover potential unknown costs, but those contingencies have been reduced now that a design is becoming clearer, Richard said. Further cost reductions included lowering the number of compactors and identifying current equipment that could be reused. A proposed fueling station for transfer station heavy equipment was also eliminated.

Selectman Jeffrey Dykens said the project still carries a 21 percent contingency, much higher than for most building projects. But Richard said that number will further decline as the design develops.

The new design includes provisions designed to reduce the odor and the noise encountered by neighbors, DPW Director Tom Temple said.

Though the construction is estimated to cost $4.5 million, it could be carried out over several years to spread out the expense, he added.

Selectmen voted unanimously to include an article on the annual town meeting warrant seeking $250,000 in design and engineering funds, and voted unanimously to endorse the article.