The Town Reminder

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Category: DPW

Green Bag program reduces trash, increases recycling

by Town Reminder

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY –The Green Bag program has reduced the amount of trash residents toss yearly by 17 percent and upped recycling by four percent since its inception last July.
Total tonnage of trash has gone down by 713 tons compared to last year’s number of 4,204 tons. Dually, South Hadley recycled 1,491 tons of trash – 61 tons (four percent) more than last year.
“Those are very good numbers,” said Department of Public Works [DPW] Superintendent James Reidy. While residents currently don’t pay a fee to dispose of trash because of the landfill hosted by the town, Reidy said if the DPW had charged to dispose of trash last year, South Hadley would have saved $50,000 with the reduction in waste via the Green Bag program.
In 2007, a Solid Waste Advisory Committee [SWAC] was formed and charged with researching trash options for when the landfill’s capacity to accept trash expires and subsequently closes. Over the course of one year, SWAC met and reviewed all trash-related issues. They decided a pay-as-you-throw program would most benefit the town while simultaneously teach residents to reduce their waste by recycling as much as possible. In July of 2011, the program was implemented and residents switched over to using the required small or large green bags to dispose of their trash.
“I’ve certainly seen a reduction in our trash,” said Reidy. “All in all, the implementation went very well.”
Residents were given a grace period of about four weeks to get into the swing of the new trash disposal system. One fear, Reidy said apprehensive residents had, was a spike in illegal dumping with the program. “We really haven’t seen that,” he said. “Beyond those first two to four weeks, people got used to the program.”
Trash in any other bag than the green bags is not picked up and is labeled with a sticker explaining why the reason why it wasn’t accepted. Trash bags that are too heavy also generate a sticker notifying the resident of the issue, but are accepted if in the correct bag.
“A lot of folks are saying they’re saving money,” said Reidy. “It certainly did give people the thought they should start recycling.”
As for why the amount of recycling tonnage was not closer to the amount of less trash tossed, Reidy said South Hadley residents, for the most part, were already recycling well. Additionally, the recycling total is calculated by tonnage, not volume. Nationwide, companies are making efforts to use less plastic in their containers and packaging as well as thinner boxes. Reidy figures the four percent recycling increase was generated by residents who were not recycling whatsoever.
“I can’t complain,” he said about the program. “For a program like this, which is a pretty big change, people adapted very quickly.”
He doesn’t anticipate any major changes to the program in the future. Currently, a pilot program is being conducted using a new type of trash bag. Called a wave top bag, this trash bag doesn’t have strings to close the bag. Rather, it has four plastic flaps. Seventy people participated in the program, on which the DPW and Recycling Center are still compiling data. Reidy said it’s too early to tell if the DPW will make a switch. Prices of the trash bags will remain the same, at .50 cents per small bag and $1 per large bag.
“All in all I’m certainly happy about the program,” said Reidy. “I think the town should be proud of the job they did on this.”

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Rotary yield change gives way to motorist concerns

by Town Reminder

Rotary yield change gives way to motorist concerns
By Kristin Will
Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY – The state-funded rotary project totaling $2 million has resulted in a change of signage requiring motorists traveling off of the Mueller Bridge from Holyoke into South Hadley to yield to those in the rotary.
Previously, signs indicated those in the rotary needed to yield to bridge traffic, despite Massachusetts’ General Law Chapter 89 section 8 indicating otherwise. South Hadley Police Chief David LaBrie and Lt. Steven Parentela both said they did not know why the rotary had been signed improperly, but said it had been that way for many, many years.
The Massachusetts General Law regarding rotaries states, “Any operator of a vehicle entering a rotary intersection shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle already in the intersection.”
Now, following the completion of the project in June, two large, digital traffic signs stationed at the end of the Muller Bridge and beginning of the rotary advertise the need to yield to oncoming rotary traffic.
“It conforms now to really the state law, which is when you’re on the rotary, you have the right of way,” said Department of Public Works Superintendent James Reidy said. The illuminated yield signs “drive that point home,” he said.
The rotary was also repaved and striped to reflect it being two lanes. Parentela suspects these indicators will reduce the number of accidents in which a motorist in the left lane attempts to exit the rotary by crossing into the right lane of traffic in front of a second vehicle.
LaBrie said he voiced his concerns regarding this type of accident to traffic engineers who conducted an extensive study of the road at the project’s inception. The engineers suggested the striping, as well as the updated signage, to improve traffic flow. Whether a reduction in this type of accident occurs “remains to be seen,” said LaBrie.
Residents have contacted the police department, said LaBrie, concerned the striping will actually cause more accidents. These concerns were forwarded to Bao Lang, the engineer overseeing the project, who then responded to each resident.
“I think it has caused a little bit of consternation with the motorists,” said Reidy, “but I’m certain that once people get used to the way things are now, it will clear a lot of that up.”
Purple Heart Drive was paved in addition to the rotary up to Douglas Avenue. Lumped into this state-funded project was the repaving of Morgan Street, which accounted for the $2 million total.
Within the next year, a second phase of resurfacing will occur, also funded by the state using funds provided by the Transportation Improvement Program. In this project, the Purple Heart Drive paving will be extended up Route 202 to the intersection with Route 33, said Reidy.
A road monitoring program conducted by the state identified the need for the rotary to be repaved and its signage changed. “The state is in control of state roads,” said Reidy. “And they decide what work has to be done.”
Residential roadwork
Five residential road projects are in the works for the remainder of the year and possibly into the next.
Currently, Palmer Paving is in the midst of resurfacing Canal and High streets in South Hadley Falls. These two streets will also receive new sidewalks.
Construction of the remaining four projects is slated to occur in late fall, said Reidy. Or, he said, the town may wait until the following year.
The road of West Summit Street from Canal and Bardwell streets will be resurfaced. A new sidewalk will be installed.
The Sycamore Knolls neighborhood including South Sycamore Street, North Sycamore Street and Sycamore Parc, will be resurfaced.
New sidewalks will be installed on the North side of Taylor Street. Reidy said the town is hoping to apply for and receive a Community Development Block Grant to pay for potential roadwork to Taylor Street.
Finally, the small stretch of Brainerd Street from Lyman to Lathrop streets not included in the previous Brainderd Street roadwork will be resurfaced.
Reidy said the Department of Public Works will go out to bid in the next month or two for companies to conduct these projects. Chapter 90 funds from the state will be used to pay for the projects. Each year, cities and towns receive a certain allotment from Chapter 90. South Hadley received $511,000 this fiscal year to perform these necessary roadwork projects.
All of these roads will remain open during construction, said Reidy. And although there will not be any detours set up, residents should expect delays. “Their understanding is greatly appreciated,” said Reidy. “These will be great improvements.”

South Hadley goes solar

by Town Reminder

South Hadley goes solar
Town’s landfill first in state to install solar panels

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY – South Hadley’s landfill will be the first in the state to affix solar panels to its sides.
Approved last Monday by the Planning Board, a total of 372 solar panels with be installed on the south-facing side of Cell 2D. Their total length extends 200 feet and the panels, comprised of rigid crystalline, will be stacked nine high.
Cell 2D wraps around the southern perimeter of the landfill. It can contain 230,000 cubic yards of waste. The cell does not surpass 405 in elevation.
Each solar panel generates 230 kilowatts per year. In total, the collection of panels will generate 100,00 kilowatts per year. The panels are a fixed orientation, anchored to four inch-thick steel stabilizers embedded within Mechanically Stabilized Earthen [MSE] Berm. They are expected to last at least 25 years.
“It’s the first we’re aware of anywhere in the country,” said Bryan Wheler of the ARM Group Inc., designers of the landfill. “It’s certainly a unique design. We’re excited about it.”
Planning Board Member Mark Cavanaugh asked of any noise associated with the solar panels. It was explained the panels have an inverter with a fan creating noise a little louder than a residential refrigerator.
Energy produced by the panels will cover 50 percent of the landfill’s current on-site demand. When asked by a Planning Board member why Interstate Waste Services [IWS], mangers of the landfill, were not aiming for 100 percent, Wheler said, “Cost, mainly,” adding the panels are expensive to fabricate and install, as they’re much more intricate than typical rooftop solar panels. After the landfill is capped, however, its energy expenditure would obviously decrease, allowing the town to harness some of that previously used power.
Absorbing much energy at the moment is the treatment of contaminated groundwater running beneath the site. The landfill sits atop old waste placed in the ground ages ago and an ancient system treats the contaminated groundwater, directing it to a sewage plant. IWS oversees the treatment of this water, despite it having existed prior to their ownership. “Once it’s removed, it’s removed,” said Tom Fields, director of landfill operations, of the contamination. He projects over time, the contamination will cease, thanks to the treatment, and the town – which will resume care of the treatment and ownership of the solar panels when the landfill is capped within the next five to eight years – will no longer need to expend power in that area.
Installation of the panels will take between three to four weeks on-site. IWS and ARM hope to do the necessary groundwork before the next frost. Further installation will resume in the spring. “We try to avoid doing this work in the heart of winter,” said Wheler. A March installation is scheduled.
It was expected the solar panel installation would be completed this fall, however due to project delays, IWS and ARM requested from the Department of Environmental Protection an extension. One was granted until April 15.
South Hadley Electric Light [SHELD] will coordinate with IWS and ARM for the installation of a transformer to transfer energy from the panels.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Planning Board Associate Member Jeremy King. “Let’s do it.”
Unanimously, the Planning Board voted to approve a special permit to alter/expand a pre-existing nonconforming use (the landfill) for installation of solar panels.

Looking to be limbless

by Town Reminder

Looking to be limbless
DPW assures residents of debris removal

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY – There’s no need for residents to go out on a limb in order to clear away debris left from October’s nor’easter. Slow but sure, the Department of Public Works [DPW] will take care of what’s left in its wake.
Worried about what to do with large limbs, trunks and piles of debris from both private and town trees, residents have inundated the DPW with anxious calls. Twice, the department has made phone calls to residents informing them of removal plans.
Since the storm on Oct. 29 through Nov. 1, the DPW, with help from the water and fire districts, pushed brush having fallen in the roadways to the side and trimmed hazardous branches. Beginning Nov. 2, crews have gone around town chipping and removing piled debris.
Thus far, Reidy estimates the town has spent $150,000 in regard to clean-up services including snow and debris removal. He is aiming to have the total cost come in under $300,000. FEMA will reimburse the town 75 percent of its clean-up cost, leaving South Hadley to pay roughly $75,000. “That to me is unbelievable,” said Reidy, who earlier stated during Tuesday’s Selectboard meeting surrounding towns have been spending in the millions for removal. “I think we’ve got the right response to this,” he said.
In addition to the already-contracted Northern Tree Service, three other landscaping companies have been scouring about town. Two chippers were rented, and SHELD, along with Northern, have lent the use of their bucket trucks for trimming branches. Northern is providing use of their log truck with a grapple arm attachment when it can. In addition to the town’s Bobcat and backhoe, a second Bobcat with a grapple arm was rented. The DPW purchased a grapple attachment for their own Bobcat machine, which makes quick work of picking up large bundles of branches, rather than tossing them into a chipping machine.
The town’s compost area has been open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. since Nov. 2. Greencycle will stop by the area in the near future to grind the monstrous debris piles in order to make room for the seemingly endless supply.
Residents can choose from three steps to take with removal of their branches and debris. Firstly, Reidy emphasizes the DPW will indeed stop by each and every home to remove the yard waste should residents have no ability to bring their piles to the compost area. Any branches for removal in this manner should be carefully piled on the edge of residential property. But because the entire town was affected, DPW arrival will not be immediate. Although, the DPW cannot guarantee it will makes all rounds before the snow falls once more. Should this happen, the remaining brush would be picked up in the spring.
Secondly, residents are able to bring their debris to the compost area every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Nov. 23. This option is highly encouraged by Reidy.
Lastly, the curbside yard waste collection by Allied Waste will begin its autumn collection Nov. 14 through Dec. 9 following the next two trash collection schedules. Brush and leaves must be in either paper leaf bags or open containers. Bundles of branches must be no more than four feet long and two feet wide. Branches larger than two inches in diameter will not be collected.
Regardless if the debris fell from private or town trees, Reidy said, “We’re going to pick it all up.”
FEMA has extended the town’s clean-up time for which it will reimburse efforts to a six-month period. Reidy said the department is aiming to have everything cleaned up by Dec. 16, weather permitting.

Truck rollover finds milk fortifying field

by Town Reminder

Truck rollover finds milk fortifying field
Alvord Street shut down Monday, Tuesday for cleanup

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY – Although it didn’t have them crying, a tractor trailer truck which rolled over Monday morning spilling milk in the roadway left officials with quite the mess to clean.
An 18-wheel Harris Milk tractor trailer truck flipped on its side on Alvord Street just past Brunelle’s Marina before McCray’s Farm after the driver, traveling south bound, failed to negotiate the turn. The Belchertown company’s truck skidded to the side of the road at 10:56 a.m. on that rainy Monday morning. It landed on its right side, crushing a fence surrounding a field and spilling its contents.
South Hadley Police Officer Jeff Goulet, Sgt. Bob Whelihan and Detective McClair Mailhott responded to the accident. Both South Hadley fire districts 1 and 2 were on scene to assist.
Although it was not completely full of dairy, some milk did leak out of the tractor trailer truck, in addition to a large amount of engine oil, said South Hadley Police Lt. Steven Parentela. Fortunately, the fuel tanks did not rupture, which was a concern, said South Hadley Fire District 1 Chief Robert Authier.
“When we arrived, we had engine fluid leaking down toward the river, not helped by the rain,” he said.
Crews were able to contain the spilled milk and prevent it from flowing into the Connecticut River, which would have caused a problem for the marine life in the river. Unfortunately, some the same could not be said for the engine oil, especially “with the rain diluting it,” said Authier.
Emergency crews received help from Luke Brunelle, of Brunelle’s Marina, in setting up a hard buoy to protect the river water from any additional runoff.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) was called to the scene to inspect. The Massachusetts State Police Truck Team arrived on scene to investigate the accident. The South Hadley Conservation Commission was notified, as was the State Health Department, which also responded to the scene. The Granby Fire Department assisted the South Hadley departments with absorbent materials. Tools such as absorbent paper and “pigs” – absorbent devices used to contain liquid in one place – were laid down, as well as sand from the South Hadley Department of Public Works. Private companies were hired to remove and dispose of the absorbent instruments.
Alvord Street remained closed for the rest of Monday and again Tuesday while the cleanup effort continued.
The driver of the Harris Milk tractor trailer truck, a 42-year-old Belchertown man, was cited for speeding. He was transported to Holyoke Medical Center for minor, non life-threatening injuries.

Selectboard approves FY12 budget, use of tasers

by Town Reminder

Selectboard approves FY12 budget, use of tasers

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY -Last Thursday’s Selectboard meeting saw the approval of two major items which previously drew much debate.
A Fiscal Year 2012 operating budget of $39,413,134 for the town was approved, which was $306,905 less than last year’s operating budget. Town Administrator Paul Beecher asked department heads to level fund their budgets for FY12, which essentially required them to mimic the previous year’s budgets. Those who could were asked to provide budgets with a five percent reduction. Because many departments are so small, just the police department and the Department of Public Works [DPW] were able provide such a reduction in their budgets. South Hadley officials are still waiting to receive final numbers from the state of Massachusetts to completely finalize their budget.
As of April 7, the school department will receive the largest budget, totaling $19, 252, 563. The public safety budget consists of $2,482,700, the general government budget is $1, 617,090 and the DPW budget is 3,292,940. The Council on Aging will receive $316,518 and $215, 300 will be appropriated for veterans benefits. One thousand dollars will be put toward Canal Park, $5,000 for the Conservation Land Fund and the snow and ice budget will receive $100, 005. The Ledges Golf Course Enterprise Fund will receive $891, 053. With various cherry sheet offsets and charges and school choice tuition, the total FY12 budget will be $41, 953, 267.
During the meeting, the Selectboard took action regarding the long-term discussion of the use of tasers. Last year, the South Hadley Police Department was gifted funds by officials from The Village Commons to purchase four tasers. A forum was held for residents to voice their concerns or support of the use of tasers by police in town. Unanimously, the Selectboard approved the implementation of tasers at the police department.
The Selectboard also approved all items on a report presented by the Capital Panning Committee. In the report are requests from various departments for capital funding for projects to be completed in FY12. They were ranked by four categories: strongly recommend, recommend, appropriate to fund if money is available and finally, defer project for this year. Ranked and approved were 10 projects. They are a purchase of two new patrol cruisers, costing $56,000, for the police department, a $150,000 reparation of a concrete aerator tank for the DPW, funds totaling $50,000 to “repair and reconfigure” underground piping to begin the process of abandoning the Old Sycamore Knolls Pump Station, the $20,000 replacement of a roller/compactor for the DPW, the replacement of floor tiles containing asbestos at the Mosier School, costing $120,000, as well as replacement of tiles at the high school, which would cost $25,000, the $40,000 replacement of a freezer/cooler at Mosier School, the purchase of a computerized point of sale system to be used for meal programs at all four schools costing $25,000, the replacement of toilet partitions at both the Mosier and Michael E. Smith Middle School, costing $23,000 and finally the purchase of shelving and storage components for the Town Clerk/Treasurer’s office.
Additionally, the Selectboard officially reconfigured itself following the town election. Robert Judge was named Selectboard Chair, Frank DeToma was named Vice Chair, Bruce MacCullagh was named Clerk and John Hine and Marilyn Ishler were named members.

Grant funds propel Green Bag Program forward

by Town Reminder

Grant funds propel Green Bag Program forward
By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection [MassDEP] has awarded South Hadley a Sustainable Materials Recovery Program grant of $47,992 to use for the implementation of the pay-as-you-throw Green Bag Program.
The program is replacing the town’s current means of collecting trash beginning July 1 in an effort to encourage more recycling in the community. Currently, residents pay $30 per person in each household every year in curbside collection fees. A single person household would pay $30 per year for trash pickup, while a two-person household would pay $60, a three-person household would pay $90, and so on and so forth.
With this Green Bag Program, no longer will residents pay the $30 per person annual fee. Rather, residents will purchase large or small green-colored trash bags from local stores for $1 or 50 cents, respectively. These bag fees replace the previous $30 per person fee. Trash bills will no longer be sent to residents.
The Selectboard approved the purchase of 875 cases of 35.6 gallon green bags (the large size) and 375 cases of 14.8 gallon green bags (the small size) from a company called WasteZero. There are 40 rolls of bags to a case and five bags to a roll.
The green bags will be labeled with what items residents can recycle. The bags will be packaged as a group of five per pack. The large bags are 36 inches high and 34 inches wide. They are 1.9 millimeters thick. Small bags are 28 inches high, 24 inches wide and are 1.5 millimeters thick. Large bags fit a typical 32-gallon trash barrel, while the small trash bags fit a typical kitchen-sized trash can.
Curbside collection of trash and recycling will not change, continuing to occur every other week. The green bags may be placed at the curb alone or inside trash barrels. Trash put out in bags other than those issued by the town will not be collected.
The money collected from the cost of the green bags, estimated to total $212,500, will be put toward the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund. The total cost to the town for purchasing this first inventory of large and small bags is $66,871.25. Nearly half of that cost, $30,992, will be covered by the MassDEP grant. The remaining $35,879.25 will be covered by the Solid Waste Operating Budget.
Approximately 2,000 recycling bins will be purchased with the other portion of MassDEP grant funds, which will also cover the cost for printing the recycling calendar and flyers for marketing.
The idea for the pay-as-you-throw Green Bag Program began in 2007 when the Selectboard appointed a Solid Waste Advisory Committee [SWAC], which was put in charge of finding a way to remove trash for a time when the South Hadley landfill closes. This waste reduction program did well in other communities and SWAC got to work hashing out the particulars.
Starting in early June, the green bags will be available for purchase at both the town’s Big Y locations, Cumberland Farms on Newton Street, Gagne’s Market on Amherst Road, O’Connell’s Convenience stores on Granby Road and Newton street, Rocky’s Ace Hardware, Stop’n’Go on Bardwell Street, Tailgate and White Wing Mobil.
Residents may choose to opt out of the program and secure a contract with a private trash removal company.