The News and Sentinel
Colebrook, NH
(August, 10 2005)



A few years ago Colebrook got a new building at the industrial park and a sewer treatment facility upgrade, projects totalling $2 million, for absolutely nothing. That¹s a deal you can¹t beat with a stick, but you can beat it with a $6.5 million landfill closure project.

The town, after 13 years of setting money aside and two years of work with DES, Casella Waste and Lynnfield Engineering, has pulled off a remarkable feat with the recently inked deal to close the landfill on Titus Hill. The plan involves adding waste on top of the existing landfill over about four years to cap it, and installing a state-of-the-art water remediation system to address runoff headed toward Lime Pond.

The original plan, just to close the landfill and put in a scaled-down water remediation system, was going to require a $3.5 million, 15-year bond. "If you added that to the school bond it was a $10.10 increase to the tax rate," said town manager Donna Caron. "We just didn't feel we could do it."

In the early 1990s the landfill had been capped with soil, but the Department of Environmental Resources said it did not meet permeability standards. Mrs. Caron said the town sought a second opinion from Rick Barthelmes of Lynnfield Engineering in Danvers, Mass. He agreed with DES, but suggested a method that's been used in his state for years: haul in more waste to cap the landfill--thereby increasing the scale of the project to $6.5--but use the revenue from the waste to pay for it. To paraphrase Donna¹s reaction, it sounded so crazy, it just might work.

Work it will, but it took a lot to get DES to sign off on the idea. Public Works Director Kevin McKinnon put countless hours in, as did Mike Sills of DES. Donna said the North Country's senators and representatives, Mark Brady, John Gallus, Fred King and Eric Stohl, and Executive Councilor Ray Burton have been a huge help. They all went to bat for the project, accompanying town officials to a meeting with Mike Nolan shortly after he took over as DES commissioner.

Titus Hill residents met with the selectmen on Monday night, and Donna said they were very agreeable. "It is going to affect them," she said. "Once the trucks start coming up, we're going to have the assessor go out and look at how it's affecting their properties."

Over the years the town has set aside $900,000, which will now be used to get started on the water remediation system. The funds will be reimbursed once revenue from the waste hauling starts to come in, and there will even be extra funds left over to repave Titus Hill.

Colebrook's project is the first of its kind in New Hampshire, and will be closely watched by DES in hopes that it may be replicated in other towns. It's a forward-thinking move which we're happy to see our town undertaking. Best of all, it's coming free of charge to the taxpayers--and that's no load of garbage. --K.L.


(Issue of August 10, 2005)

Reprinted with permission, 11/8/2005

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