Keep the momentum going on transfer station

Picture this: A large public project is proposed. It then goes through the regulatory approval process. It takes so long and meets with so much opposition that it is no longer viable. While the service it would have provided to the public would have been welcome and necessary, it goes by the wayside.

Ever seen or heard of a scenario like this? Sure, it seems that such outcomes are becoming more and more common. It could have happened to the Salisbury-Sharon Transfer Station, but the voters in those towns decided that responsible mitigation of their trash was too important to put at risk.

They deserve a lot of credit for understanding the critical nature of their voting as they considered a $1 million increase for their proposed new transfer station at two separate town meetings at the end of 2018, as reported by Patrick Sullivan in last week’s Lakeville Journal. While in Salisbury there were 9 no votes and 57 yes, in Sharon the voice vote of about 60 residents was unanimous in support of moving forward despite the additional money needed to do so.

There were various reasons for the increase: tariffs on imported steel, delays in the regulatory and funding process,  objections by neighbors of the new site that needed to be heard and addressed. But in the time since the current construction plans for the transfer station were approved in 2016, costs increased and the lowest estimate came in with that additional $1 million price tag. That is a fact. It had to be accepted and resolved.

Credit for the acceptance of the new, higher bid goes to the voters, but also to their town leaders, especially Sharon First Selectman Brent Colley and Salisbury First Selectman Curtis Rand. They both went all out to communicate with their town residents before the town meeting votes and clearly outline the reasons that justified a yes vote. It’s hard enough to get one town to cooperate in such a situation, but to gather support from two towns took much concerted effort. This communication created well-informed citizens who then made the right decision for the good of their towns.

These two towns need to start and finish this project on a schedule that is getting tighter by the day, in that the current transfer station needs to vacate Hotchkiss School property in Lakeville by 2020. Complicating things further is the federal government shutdown; the Department of Agriculture officials who are working with the towns are currently unavailable. Let’s hope there will be no further delays that could result in more increases in cost or even put the whole thing at risk. On a public project of this size and scope, getting started can be the hardest part.