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WVN #253: A good deal on trash disposal?

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear Wayland Voter, This newsletter compares the price of trash disposal in Wayland and other communities. Also: -- The School Committee prevails in a suit
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 21, 2008
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      Dear Wayland Voter,

      This newsletter compares the price of trash disposal in Wayland and other communities. Also:

      -- The School Committee prevails in a suit filed by the district attorney alleging an Open Meeting Law violation.

      -- Latest developments in the Town Center project and the controversial proposal for affordable housing on Route 30.

      -- WayCAM now telecasts on Verizon as well as Comcast cable.


      A GOOD DEAL ON TRASH DISPOSAL?

      ANALYSIS

      Wayland  has one of the highest property tax rates around. Do we also have top prices for trash disposal?

      The Board of Health has had years to consider what to do when the Landfill reaches capacity. Now, possibly within weeks of the closing, with little fanfare or public discussion, the Board of Health has announced
      a plan to turn the site into a transfer station and is negotiating a contract with a firm to haul the trash away.

      The new rate for residents to drop off trash is up  31 percent  from last year. It's estimated that half of Wayland's residents use the facility rather than hire a commercial firm to pick up trash barrels  from the
      curb. A landfill/transfer station vehicle sticker good until June 30, 2009 costs  $320. The hours the facility is open will be reduced by two hours a week  (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
      on Saturday). The later start on weekdays could inconvenience those who make a quick stop at the Landfill on their way to work. 

      The Board said the higher price is necessary to pay Waste Management, Inc., to haul trash away for incineration, and plans to cut costs by reducing the work force. 

      Michael Wegerbauer of the Board of Health issued an announcement headed "All Aboard." 

      "The Town is hopeful that residents will continue to support this environmentally friendly institution," he said.  The transfer station is advertised as essentially the same as the Landfill except that the waste is
      no longer buried locally as it has been for 28 years. 

      There was little public discussion before the change was announced. At one Board of Health meeting, residents spoke passionately about the facility as a traditional community gathering place. That won't
      change, Wegerbauer said. There will still be recycling bins and the "give and take" section for used items. 

      Wegerbauer also argued that continued recycling will net the town $50,000 a year, and the transfer station will keep some garbage trucks  and smelly trash barrels off the streets. 

      Will some residents balk at the new price? WVN readers have shared anecdotes of people shopping for a private service or planning  to share the price of a sticker with a neighbor. Will $320 be the right price
      for most residents?

      A look at fees in other towns shows a wide range. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection noted that a few years ago annual  prices ranged from $0 to $300. (Weston, for example,  charges
      $190 for a sticker; recycling is free.)The DEP encourages Pay As You Throw unit pricing as environmentally friendly and cost-effective. More than a third of the state's municipalities have adopted it. Wegerbauer
      says such a system is being studied and could be in place by 2010 at the latest.

      This is how pay as you throw works in Sudbury. Residents pay $125 a year for a sticker and buy approved trash bags  -- $1 for a 15-gallon bag, $2 for a 30-gallon bag. For $320 in Sudbury you could dispose
      of 195 15-gallon bags. 

      Many communities charge a lower annual fee. In Duxbury, for example, the annual charge is only $25, and the price of bags is  $1 for 13 gallons or $1.50 for 33 gallons. For $320 in Duxbury you could drop
      off 295  small bags per year, an average of nearly six per week. 

      Some communities charge nothing for the sticker. Figures from 2006 show Groton and Norfolk  at $45, Bolton and Bridgewater  at $0, Hudson at $10, Scituate  at $75, Needham at $40.

      Concord boasts  a "fully user-funded pay as you throw" system that costs no tax dollars and includes curbside pickup.  Residents pay $79 for a six-month sticker and buy tags for their barrels ($1.50 for one
      pickup, $39 for six months of pickups). For $320 annually you could leave out at least four barrels a week and get free pickup.

      In comparison, Wayland's current rate may not look very attractive  unless you're getting rid of a lot of stuff. For residents taking a long view, this  might be a good year to take advantage of  "throw all you
      want" and dispose of everything possible that can be deposited legally. 

      All revenues from the landfill/transfer station go to the town's general fund. This raises questions:

      -- What will it cost to run the transfer station? Will residents who use the facility be making a hidden contribution to the town treasury?

      -- If high prices cost the facility business,  will rates rise to compensate? 

      --  Since pay as you throw is well established and popular (more than 6,000 communities nationwide) could the  Board of Health have planned ahead instead of addressing the possibility at the last minute?
      Though the DEP notes that administrative costs can rise with pay as you throw, it is not a complicated system.

      -- Given  the Board's public relations problems in 2006 when it raised some sticker prices without warning and then rescinded  them after a storm of protest, will the Board  once again make customers
      unhappy? Wegerbauer said  the Board adopted the recommendation of a working group that included town employees. The group wasn't required to meet in public and held no public hearings or forums. If the
      working group or the Board studied alternative  ideas, the public isn't aware of them.

      -- Michael Short


      COURT RULES FOR SCHOOLCOM

      A 2004 evaluation of Superintendent Gary Burton led the Middlesex County district attorney to sue the School Committee, alleging a violation of the state Open Meeting Law. Superior Court has now found in
      favor of the Committee. 

      A July 2, 2008 ruling held that the Committee was absolved of the allegation by its  release of minutes of executive (closed) sessions, along with the evaluation draft and final evaluations.

      In 2006 the School Committee defied the DA's order to disclose individual comments made by members about Burton's 2004 evaluation and voted 4-0 to to spend an undetermined  amount of money defending
      against the suit. Members said it was important to try to establish whether the Open Meeting Law prevails over the Public Records Law. Then-Member Bob Gordon said  "the entire credibility of the assessment
      process" was at stake. 

      Member Louis Jurist abstained from the vote, saying, "Whatever it costs us is not in the budget...We have bigger fish to fry." 

      Though a legal argument can be made that the Open Meeting Law doesn't apply in this case, many processes of hiring and evaluating public officials are routinely disclosed to public view.

      The July 2 ruling isn't necessarily a definitive judgment on Open Meeting v. Public Records. 

      The case arose after the Wayland Town Crier complained that its reporter wasn't given copies of members' emails and the final Burton evaluation.    

      "I find that the committee violated the OML by conducting the superintendent's performance evaluation outside of the public view," wrote Assistant District Attorney Bethany Stevens...The public has a
      particularly keen interest in the competence and performance of its top officials and an evaluation is paramount to allowing the public to monitor the competence of its officials." 

       Committee Member Jeff  Dieffenbach  asserted that members require confidentiality to evaluate the superintendent candidly.

      "The fact that the end product becomes a public document is all the public needs to see," he told the Town Crier. "Some would say, more than they need to see." 

      The cost of defending against the DA was estimated at $15,000, which the Crier commented would pay for all the language arts books in the budget that year.

      After the suit was filed, the School Committee modified its evaluation process.

      -- Michael Short

      TOWN CENTER HEARINGS CONTINUE

      Road widening and wetlands were the major subjects of  continuing Conservation Commission hearings on the Town Center housing-shopping-office project on Route 20. The developer, Twenty Wayland, said
      it's open to changing the location  of a proposed municipal building on the 57-acre property.

      Andrew Magee of Epsilon Associates, representing the developer,  explained on July 17 how  the flood water storage destroyed by fill near the intersection of Routes 20 and 27 will be compensated by creating
      new wetlands behind the "Welcome to Wayland" sign farther east on Route 20.  Residents asked about drainage pipes from the public safety building which drain into the same area. The Historic District
      Commission has also expressed concern about newly created wetlands causing further flooding in basements of the historic houses across Route 20.

      Magee also showed diagrams of road widening at the two proposed entrances to the project and a smaller entrance to land designated for a town building. The two entrances on Routes 20 and 27  will have
      extra turning lanes and traffic lights. The town site entrance will be small and allow only right  turns in and out. Magee disclosed  an unresolved issue of 70 cubic yards of fill not compensated by created
      wetlands.

      The ConCom is also dealing with a Notice of Intent for on-site activity falling under ConCom jurisdiction. Improved maps  requested by the Commission were distributed.  Since the ConCom hadn't had time to
      study the new maps, most of the discussion was postponed. However, some points covered at the previous meeting were revisited in a July 17 Memo to the Commissioners.

      The ConCom is very strict on enforcing the state requirement  to provide a 100-foot-wide area of undisturbed vegetation bordering any river. This is still an issue with the proposed municipal site. In addition,
      there is still  controversy over whether  some of the area surrounding the existing unused day care building is disturbed or undisturbed. When these questions have come up,  the Twenty Wayland
      representative has cited the developer's compliance with endangered species habitat regulations, an unrelated topic.  Members of the ConCom stood firm on these issues.

      The Commission's questions seemed aimed at determining what flexibility there is in the site plan.  It was suggested that the site for the proposed town building be switched with the smaller part of the
      planned  green. This would shift the building away from the 100-foot river front buffer area.  Frank Dougherty, Twenty Wayland's representative, said  that the site plan showed what  the town wanted, with the
      building in the location proposed on the maps. Resident Linda Segal, speaking from the audience, suggested that that location was not what the town had asked for. Dougherty said he had no objection to
      switching the building and the smaller part of the town green. (Dougherty reminded the Commission that the building site remains owned by Twenty Wayland under a one-dollar, 99-year lease to the town.)

      Segal also repeated a question asked two weeks earlier,  whether Raytheon, the former tenant which is responsible for pollution cleanup on the property, had received copies of  any of  maps and data given to
      ConCom.  Dougherty indicated that Raytheon had not yet been given this information. Raytheon is responsible for the hazardous waste permeating the groundwater under the site, and must be satisfied that
      any new construction does not push contaminated groundwater towards the town wells at Baldwin Pond.  Raytheon  ultimately  approves what construction and redevelopment activities can occur on their
      former property.

      Wayland library trustees  are interested in using the municipal site for a new library building.  A parcel at higher elevation and farther  from the floodplain and wetlands would make needed basement storage
      more feasible.

      A commissioner also pointed out  that the supermarket driveway needs to be changed because it lies within a 30-foot "no disturb" area.

      Hearings will continue Aug. 14. Hearings on a new Jewish cemetery and using chemicals to combat milfoil at the town beach have ended.

      40B AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT HEARING

      Despite  continuing strong controversy, a calm discussion took place over the proposed  56-unit 40B affordable housing project at 371-373 Commonwealth Road, site of the former Barton nursing home.
      Several of the neighbors who oppose it were present.

      Fred King, a former Wayland conservation administrator turned consultant,  representing the applicant, asked to work with the peer reviewer and the conservation administrator, Brian Monahan, using written
      comments prepared by the neighborhood opposition, to try to resolve some of the issues. The questions posed first by the peer reviewer and then the comments of the peer reviewer after the working session
      would be written and public, and available to the neighbors' group. The working session would aim to clear up technical questions the reviewer might have.

      Susan Bernstein, attorney for the neighborhood group  which includes Carol Kee  (property facing the proposed project),  and Dave MacIntosh (behind the project) and others, made a short presentation. The
      neighbors want  the size of  the project reduced. Bernstein noted that the applicant had asked for waivers of the 30-foot buffer zone bordering wetlands and also noted that the impervious surface would be
      increased, although not next to the wetlands. Bernstein suggested that the building be shifted closer to the road and made smaller.The ConCom will continue the hearing on Sept. 4, after peer review has
      begun.


      BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD FOR CVS

      The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has asked  CVS to substantially revise its plans  for the proposed new store at 325 Boston Post Road to satisfy environmental regulations. The drug
      chain is seeking permits to build at the site of Caraway's restaurant. 

      A June 27  letter requests an alternative design for compensatory flood water storage, an alternative location and design for the proposed lined extended detention basin located to the rear of the site, and an
      alternative to the use of proprietary systems such as Stormceptors for primary treatment  or to control peak discharge rates. In addition, two soil test pits at the location of the roof infiltration are required.  A
      maintenance plan for all stormwater structures proposed must be included.

      The environmentally sensitive site makes it difficult to build a comparatively large structure with paved parking and access. CVS' plan for a drive-up window adds to the challenges.

      -- Betty Salzberg


      WAYCAM NOW REACHES ALL CABLE USERS


      Wayland Community Access Media is now broadcasting on Verizon cable as well as Comcast.

      WayCAM telecasts many local governmental meetings as well as a variety of local programming. 

      Verizon began carrying WayCAM on its Channel 37 on July 14. WayCAM broadcasts on Comcast's Channel 9. 

      "We hope this new channel is just the beginning of WayCAM's growth," said Ken Isaacson, president of the WayCAM board.  "We are looking forward to a second Verizon channel going live around January of this
      coming year. And hopefully a new contract with Comcast could result in a second Comcast channel as well, starting in 2010. WayCAM is already producing more than 30 original programs per month, and we
      have 100 high school students enrolled in TV production classes next school year, starting in September. There will be a real need for the new channels."
       
      WayCAM's TV schedule is at www.wayland.ma.us/WayCAM ), and is published weekly in the Town Crier, both in print and online.

      The Board of Selectmen continues to press WayCAM to change its board of directors to give more influence to the selectmen. As reported by WVN and others, the selectmen are refusing to release Verizon funds
      that by law must go to WayCAM, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. At least one selectman has acknowledged WayCAM's right to the funds. A  selectman's suggestion  to release the money as a
      gesture of goodwill to  counter allegations of a  "power grab" was unsuccessful.


      MEETING VIDEO LINKS

      Here are links in three formats to video of the July 17 ConCom hearings and the July 7 School Committee meeting.

      Please Note:  www.waylandmass.us is a private website

      Windows Media Player
      http://www.waylandmass.us/ConCom/ConCom071708_TC_roadways.wmv
      Quick Time
      http://www.waylandmass.us/ConCom/ConCom071708_TC_roadways.mp4
      Adobe Flash
      http://www.waylandmass.us/ConCom/ConCom071708_TC_roadways.swf

      Windows Media Player
      http://www.waylandmass.us/SC/SC070708.wmv
      Quick Time
      http://www.waylandmass.us/SC/SC070708.mp4
      Adobe Flash
      http://www.waylandmass.us/SC/SC070708.swf

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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor
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