|Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Mulls Possible Expansion|
|By Jeff Snoonian, iBerkshires Correspondent|
06:50AM / Sunday, October 13, 2019
|The solid waste district commission discusses North Adams and Dalton possibly joining the district at Thursday's meeting.|
ADAMS, Mass. — The solid waste district is hoping for a decision from North Adams, and possibly Dalton, before considering service contracts.
The Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management Commission on Thursday discussed the bid process for servicing the district and, with the possibility of North Adams coming on board, Program Coordinator Linda Cernik wants to ensure they use every resource available.
"This is a very, very important bid coming up. There can't be any mistakes, any hiccups, nothing. With the possibility of North Adams joining the district, and maybe Dalton, we have to get this right," Cernik said. "We met with Williams College and the four students doing the study (about North Adams joining the district) and they are going to present to the City Council in December."
The possible inclusion of North Adams and Dalton would be especially convenient this year as both municipalities' solid waste contracts expire on June 30, the same date as the district's.
Although the move is viewed as positive on most fronts, Windsor Selectman and Commissioner Doug Mcnally would like timely decisions from both communities so the solid waste district can move ahead with the bid process.
"They are realizing that if they joined us and we all put out one bid we would all probably do better financially. They also understand, we made it very clear to them, don't come to us a month after we've started the budget and say, 'OK,'" he said. "The people in both towns clearly understood that if they didn't give us a lead time to do the whole budgetary process (with two new members), we couldn't do it."
The commission's accountant Terry Haig agreed that it was in the best interest of both North Adams and Dalton to decide quickly.
"Budget-wise it's very difficult if they join us midstream. We have to budget accordingly for the services that the districts are going to provide," she said. "There's a lot that goes into that and we need as much time as possible. [If they decide late] it could be an accounting nightmare. It's not something you can prorate. It would be nice if we could even get the bids early."
Cernik brought in Municipal Assistance Coordinator Veronique Blanchard from the state Department of Environmental Protection to explain how the process has become more complicated.
"One of the things we're trying to encourage all municipalities across the state to do is to contract with a consultant to help (put out the request for proposal). It's gotten very complicated," Blanchard said. "If the company you contract with decides to dock you for a certain amount of contamination (unrecyclable materials), you want to know what the process is for having a waste audit, make sure you have a representative there. You want to know the logistics so that you're protected.
"It's a different world right now for recycling and you want to make sure you have this information spelled out ahead of time."
After hearing from Blanchard, the commission voted to let Cernik investigate hiring a consultant to help put the request for proposals together.
Cernik announced the district received a total of $35,500 among its member towns as part of the commonwealth's Recycling Dividend Program grant program. The program provides money to qualifying municipalities that have implemented specific waste reduction, reuse, and recycling programs.
"The district as a whole got an increase. Eight towns got money, including two new ones, Florida and Hancock," she said. "I'm really proud of everybody. It's not only the towns and officials. It's the transfer station attendants, all of the board, and me nagging everyone to do this and do that. We really did a great job this year."
RDP money can be used for anything from buying new recycling equipment, procurement of environmentally preferable cleaning supplies, improvements to infrastructure, or even printing promotional materials to encourage waste reduction.
Cernik will be undertaking transfer station inspections along with MassDEP soon. Inspections are required every year and are carried out by a third party. She doesn't foresee many issues.
"The inspections went really well last year," she said. "We only had minor issues. Make your stations as tidy as possible and we shouldn't have any issues."
Cernik will be conducting a waste audit at Hoosac Valley Middle School. The audit basically measures how efficient an entity is in its recycling efforts. She will be including the school's (science, tech, engineering and math) class on her tour. The Leo Club and the Honor Society will be performing waste audits at Youth Center Inc. in Cheshire and Hoosac Valley Elementary as part of a mentoring program.
She hopes to attend the MassDEP 2020-2030 Master Plan public comment session in Springfield. Every 10 years, the DEP reassesses its goals for waste management and compiles a new master plan to present to municipalities. Cernik said the district is ahead of the game.
"I recommend you take a look at it. It's a lot of things we're already in line with doing. It's constantly a work in progress," she said. "You can't make changes overnight but I think we've done a lot in the last few years."
The next meeting of the waste district commission will be on Nov. 14 at the Adams Visitors Center.