2008-05-15 / Front Page

Landfill closure plan approved by Town Council

Plan passes without public workshop
By Sam Bari

Town Engineer Michael Gray gave a detailed slide presentation of the plans for the proposed landfill closure to the Town Council at Monday night's meeting.

Ed Summerly, a principal of GZA Geo Environmental, Inc., of Providence, the firm contracted to handle the closure, assisted Gray in the presentation.

Gray gave a history of the site investigation and report (SIR). GZA was selected to conduct the site investigation in 1999. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management approved the work plan and the study began in November 2000.

After submitting a summary of the findings in the SIR, an approval letter was issued by RIDEM in April 2004, declaring the site benign.

The SIR included recommendations for the site closure, a quar- terly environmental monitoring program, landfill closure design components, and additional site improvements. Gray's presentation also included a detailed drawing and description of the proposed storage area at Taylor point and the storage use of the closed landfill.

The budget for the landfill closure was inspired by a suggestion from Councilman Robert Sutton for the town to provide all the labor and do the work itself. With that in mind, Gray's budget, with a 20-percent contingency, was $389,880.40, down $360,111.60 from GZA's original proposed budget of $750,000.

"Approximately half of the original budget was in materials," Gray said. "We saved a tremendous amount in labor by doing the work ourselves."

Councilman Michael White said he was happy that materials were not going to be stored over the trash. Councilman William Kelly had questions about the cost efficiency of minimal storage and the paving of Summit Avenue. Gray and Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero quickly allayed his concerns.

Sutton emphasized the "importance of doing the work ourselves." He asked about the possibility of generating the needed fill material for the landfill from private contractors working on various projects around the island.

Gray said it was something worth investigating if a large quantity of fill were available. He agreed with Sutton that storage areas were an integral part of the project.

Sutton suggested investigating the possibility of keeping the larger building in the landfill area for storage. In the plan, the shed was marked for demolition.

Gray said it was worth investigating.

Councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski asked Gray if the plan was final. He said it was a complete concept that GZA would use to prepare the "100-percent plan." Gray added that the final plan would take about eight weeks to complete.

The state's Department of Environmental Management has approved the plan for everything in their jurisdiction, and they urged the town to go ahead with the finished drawings, Gray said.

Szepatowski said she was shocked that the council was considering voting on the final plan that evening. "We're voting on a plan that should have been advertised and presented to the public at a workshop," Szepatowski said. "We need public input on this," she added.

Gray said that DEM had encouraged the town to complete the plan. He added that if the council wanted to have a workshop, they better have it now, before the final plans are completed. "If there are any major changes after the 100 percent plans are finished, it will be costly. If you're considering making any changes, it's best to do it now," Gray said. He added that the elements of the closure design have not changed from the 2004 and 2005 plans, for which public comment was heard.

"The only change being presented tonight is that the material storage area is being moved from over the trash to an area outside of the waste disposal limits," Gray said.

Councilor Kelly said the plan had changed little since 2004 when it was first approved, and he saw no reason to delay approving the plan now so the work can start as soon as possible.

Szepatowski said there were things that needed to be considered, and brought up her knowledge of two recent cases of cancer that had occurred in the landfill area. Kelly said the site had been declared "most benign" by the DEM and that contamination was not a worry.

Kelly said he had a bout with cancer, and he had been around landfill closures all his life. He added, "And I have no problem with closing this landfill."

Council President Julio DiGiando suggested taking a vote on the amended plan and proceeding with the final plan. Sutton motioned to amend the plan to include possibly saving the large building on the landfill site. Kelly seconded the motion and the vote passed 4 to 1 with Szepatowski casting the dissenting vote. The motion to complete the final plan passed by the same margin.

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