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Cornwall considers composting service

CORNWALL — A recent field trip to Litchfield offered insight and intrigue into creating a communal composting service in Cornwall.

Three Cornwall representatives visited the Litchfield Transfer Station last week at the invitation of First Selectwoman Denise Raap. Cornwall’s Transfer Station Coordinator Ted Larson, Station Attendant Will Berry, and First Selectman Gordon Ridgway were given a tour of the composting piles in Litchfield.

“We found this very interesting,” said Ridgway. “What was good about it was that it was a self-contained program.”

Ridgway explained that the town of Litchfield collects leaves to fill two thirds of their composting pile and then area contributors dump food scraps that are mixed with the leaves. The final product is locally sourced compost that can be taken home by residents to use in their lawns and gardens.

“I was really impressed,” said Ridgway. “We could set this up within a week once we get the go ahead from the state.”

The board approved a motion to submit an application to the state for a permit to add this service at the Cornwall Transfer Station. Ridgway estimated the total cost to set up a designated composting area would be under $1,000.

“Keep it here. Keep it local. Keep it in Cornwall,” said Larson. “If we ship stuff out, we’ll never see a finished product. Here we have a finished product. People can come in with their five-gallon buckets and they can take it home.”

The board then reviewed options for handling two properties in town that have been accruing back taxes for about 15 years. Both properties are owned by the estate of Richard Burkhart: one is located at 8 River Road South and the other is on Kent Road just south of Cornwall Bridge.

Ridgway indicated that upwards of $200,000 in back taxes is owed between the two properties and the land is presumed to be contaminated.

“The town does not want to get them to chain the title because we do not want to be responsible for the possible contamination there,” said Ridgway. “There have been people that have come up and said they would be interested in buying these.”

The board agreed to research a tax lien sale, through which an attorney would auction the properties and the town would receive a percentage of the back taxes from the sale.

“I don’t see a downside, Gordon, because it’s just been weighing on the town and the town can use the money. It sounds smart to me,” said Selectwoman Janet Carlson.

The board reviewed their spending proposal for 2023-24 during this meeting as well. While the assessment increase from Region One has dominated budget discussions in Cornwall this year, Ridgway recognized the efforts each department has made to minimize spending during a difficult time.

“Appreciate all our departments efforts to try to hold their spending level, which is tough because some of the costs are increasing,” said Ridgway. The Selectmen will present their spending plan to the Board of Finance on Feb. 16.

Eversource has proposed to trim trees along 70 of the 94 miles of road within Cornwall. The proposal indicated that Eversource responded to 134 outages in Cornwall last year, 73% of which were tree related. The energy company will contact customers before trimming begins in their area.

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