The Selectmen Discuss Landfill Options

The selectmen met on June 23, 2004, to discuss the matter of the dump closing, and what the town should do about its trash once the dump is closed. Also in attendance were a guy from DES (beware that gang; the supposed protectors of our environment. Remember that they are in the pockets of the sludge haulers), and a guy from GEO Insight Engineering.

When it comes to what to do with our trash when our own dump closes, we have several options. In condensed form, those options are:

The first is what we've been doing all along, and it seems a reasonable way to continue. It's in line with our sludge ordinance—i.e., Farmington takes care of its own sludge, but no one else's. The minute you hook up with other towns, you complicate things.

There are, to be sure, problems with the way our current dump is being run. No one checks the cars coming in to see if they have stickers, so who knows how much outside trash is coming in? Dale Sprague reported that someone just dumped a mess of mattresses, and those, along with construction materials and bulky things like upholstered furniture, use up a lot of valuable dump capacity because that stuff can't easily be compacted. It was suggested that better management at the dump might alleviate those problems. For example, fees might be charged for such bulky items, in order to offset tipping fees for that stuff to be taken in by, for instance, Waste Management. With careful management, it seems our dump has a few more years left—perhaps more—before we fill it up.

But then what? Jerry McCarthy and Paul Parker (Paula Proulx wasn't at the meeting) seem to be leaning in the direction of either a Farmington-only solution or a small-regional solution. When the option of the small-regional solution was under discussion, one of the "guests" (was it the guy from DES?) suggested that to offset the costs of such an operation, maybe the towns involved could occasionally let some big hauler deliver us a certain amount of trash - and he may even said "sludge"—not generated within the small-region's boundaries. If it was the DES Residual Management guy who said that, that would suggest that DES is trying to shove "foreign" trash on us the same way it tries to get towns to take "foreign" sludge from cities and paper mills. Again, what if one of the other towns in the regional group wants to take in the "occasional" sludge delivery, and Farmington doesn't want to, having already refused to accept outside sludge in Farmington?

Then the discussion got really interesting, and lively, and revealed, yet again, where our selectmen are coming from on this issue.

Matt Scruton said one option might be to have Waste Management pick up our trash at curbside. Jerry pointed out that the problem with that might be that Waste Management could give us a good price the first year (or however long the initial contract was for), and then, when they have us at their mercy, jack up the price for the next contract.

Matt Scruton said we should consider the option of letting Waste Management manage our waste, while also using Farmington as their dump. Let them haul in trash from wherever they want, the way they do in Rochester, and pay us millions to do this. Why, what a windfall for the town! says Matt. That's our bean-counting Matt. The only line he seems to care about is the bottom line.

Paul Parker said, heatedly, that there were other considerations than money. (Right on, Paul!) He likened Waste Management to a seductress who revealed her true colors only after you married her. He said Farmington's trash is for Farmington to deal with, and the best way to win the game with Waste Management was not to bring them in to play the game in the first place.

Jerry agreed with Paul. Joan Funk said there was an such an outcry from the town over the Waste Management takeover option, it likely wouldn't fly. Matt said that outcry came from a vocal minority; Joan laughingly agreed. Do those two forget that 444 people (that's a pretty hefty "vocal minority") voted for Paul Parker, who, at the "Meet the Candidates" night before the March elections, voiced his solid objection against letting any outfit like Waste Management or Casella come into town, making mountains of trash, a dreadful legacy for future generations. And too bad Paula Proulx, who got a record 577 votes in the March elections, wasn't there to speak for the "vocal minority", because she too is adamantly against doing business with the likes of Waste Management.

At one point, Dale Sprague, after previously mumbling something about the "political" climate being what it was (and what is that, Dale?), the Waste Management option might not fly, jumped on Matt's bandwagon to say it might not be a bad option after all.

Paul Parker said he'd been reading extensively on the internet about the problems towns have had with giant trash haulers, and there were problems across the country with them.

Matt Scruton then questioned the information Paul got online, saying some of the information Paul got was skewed, not accurate. And then Dale Sprague chimed in, agreeing with Matt. (Who the heck is Sprague to even open his mouth on this one? and why is he so stubbornly eager to invite Waste Management in, using every opportunity he can to push for their taking over our town?) Jerry then asked Matt and Dale where they got their information? No answer from either on that. For shame, Dale and Matt, to sink to such depths, without coming up with a shred of information that would counter what Paul has read online. Paul is not the only one who has read the horror stories about Casella and Waste Management. Many of us have read of the problems Waste Management has caused in Rochester and Dover, and Paul is not alone searching the web and learning about the many problems Casella has caused in Bethlehem and other towns, and what their tactics are.

Farmington is beset with problems. When the IGO is lifted at the end of September, the developers who have been put off for a year will be at our gates in droves, salivating, $$$ glittering in their eyes.

We know that with all growth comes problems, problems that seem to magnify and escalate. Selectmen Jerry McCarthy, Paul Parker, and Paula Proulx recognize that if we are really serious about protecting whatever precious, small-town characteristics Farmington has left, we should keep things simple. We should not complicate things. Instead, we should hew to the self-reliance sturdy New Englanders are known for. We should be suspicious of huge, corrupt gangs that would take advantage of us. We can handle our own trash ourselves, and not be the short-sighted, naive patsies who don't see what Paul Parker said is the lure of the seductress. We should not believe, as Matt Scruton seems to believe when it comes to the matter of our trash, that Mammon is the god we should always follow.