2006-12-21 / Front Page

More mulling as barn site costs exceed expectations

By Dotti Farrington

The engineering consultants’ October report on the landfill closure and highway barn includes a cost estimate to place the barn on Lot 47, adjacent to the former town landfill site, according to additional data released Monday by Town Administrator Bruce Keiser.

The consultants, GZA GeoEnvironmental of Norwood, Mass., estimated the costs to prepare Lot 47 to be used for a barn would be $380,000. GZA said the estimate was provided at the request of town officials. Possible use of Lot 47 had been a relatively minor part of the six months of public comment and state review about the safety of both the landfill closure and the use of the landfill or Lot 47 for the public works barn.

Costs for the landfill closure alone was estimated at $570,500. Cost for site preparation for the barn at the landfill was figured at $1,107,400. With contingency estimates, the costs are $624,564 for the closure, and $1,218,095 for site preparation at the landfill. A chart with a contingency total for site work on Lot 47 was not part of the new data released this week.

None of the estimates include barn construction costs.

Town officials have been pondering in private a report dated in mid-October about estimated costs to close the town landfill and to build a public works barn there, the Jamestown Press learned early this month.

GZA has been consultant on the landfill closure for several years and more recently on a revised plan to locate the barn within the landfill site. Closing the landfill is mandated, for which the town volunteered in 1998 to conform. Building the barn at the landfill or at Lot 47 is optional, although everyone agrees a new barn is needed somewhere for the town.

GZA prepared the estimates to reflect all the requirements being made by the state Department of Environmental Management after its study earlier this year of residents’ concerns about possible pollution from the landfill and fears about construction, such as for the barn, increasing the possibilities of pollution.

Officials in 2005 thought they could build a barn at the landfill with little need for site preparation, and estimated then that barn structure there would be about $1 million.

Estimates for a proposed barn at the wastewater treatment plant site at Taylor Point ranged from $2.1 million for a basic metal structure with nominal site work to $3.8 million for a masonry building and considerable site work. A $2.4 million version was rejected by voters 2,111-1,008 in November 2004.

Lot 47 sentiments

Rejection of the barn at Taylor Point re-opened the battle over location of the barn.

At that time, five residents wrote that they had formed an ad hoc committee to get the barn built on Lot 47, adjacent to former landfill on the north end of the island. They asked for documents about water tests on Lot 47 with the intent to determine anew whether or not building a barn there would pose any threat to the town’s water supply. The ad hoc committee consisted of Carol Nelson-Lee, Robert Sutton, Craig Amerigian, Richard Hutchinson, and Gerry Barrette.

In its extensive study, the DEM said that Lot 47 contained no landfill waste or contaminated soil. The only threat to water supply safety could be from ground-water drainage, the DEM maintained. The water supply could be protected by proper engineering for appropriate drainage, the regulatory agency noted.

Two people spoke in November 2004 on behalf of a group called the North End Concerned Citizens, who oppose locating the barn on Lot 47 and at the former landfill. The site, off upper North Main Road, is now used for the town transfer station.

Ray Iannetta of North Main Road, and David VanSlyke, a Portland, Maine, lawyer and environmental specialist hired by the NECC, protested the revival of Lot 47 as a barn site and called for several procedural practices.

The NECC’s protests and actions led to this year’s DEM review, and to their persistent efforts to ensure public access to information about the landfill and barn site options.

Legal battle

The town administrator this week said that the concern of the Town Council and other town officials was about the intent of the NECC to use legal tactics and a probable lawsuit to block a barn in their section of the island. He said some NECC leaders have said to him directly that they are prepared to launch a court battle to pursue their goals.

At the Dec. 11 council meeting, Keiser presented that point and others when he told the councilors the circumstances of his releasing the GZA report after it had been kept secret for several weeks, until the Jamestown Press asked about its existence.

New data

According to GZA, its estimate for Lot 47 assumes that bedrock or large boulders will not be encountered, that the native soils will be similar to soils encountered on the landfill site, and that vehicular access and utility services will cross the landfill lot.

If the decision is made to access the properly from either Holly Street or Prospect Avenue the costs will need to be revised, according to the consultants. The storm-water detention pond shown may be replaced by underground infiltration to limit disturbance of the area.

With the use of an underground storm-water detention/infiltration system, the limits of disturbance would be approximately 1.4 acres. If a storm-water pond were needed, the disturbance would be about two acres, GZA said.

In acknowledging that the town had the report for some time, Keiser said the document has been the topic of recent council executive session talks that are allowed for matters that may be subject to potential litigation.

NECC leaders earlier this year said they do not want to have to use a lawsuit to protect their water wells. They said they were working to make sure that all appropriate regulations were followed to protect their private well water supplies, as well as the town reservoir system of water sources. They more recently said they would work to make the rules more stringent for the landfill closure. Town officials have interpreted such public remarks, combined with private comments, as being about litigation.

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