Trash task force eyed

BAR HARBOR — In the debate here about garbage, recycling and the town transfer station, recommendations for next steps will come from a new town task force.

In a divided 4-3 vote Tuesday, the Town Council created the task force to develop recommendations for the town’s solid waste system. They asked Town Manager Cornell Knight to draft by-laws for the task force and advertise for applications.

Councilors Anne Greenlee, Clark Stivers, Gary Friedmann and Burt Barker supported the move. David Bowden, Paul Paradis and Peter St. Germain opposed it.

The idea was floated by several residents at the May 3 council meeting in Town Hill, asking for more study of options for reducing waste and associated costs after the council had decided not to pursue a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) trial program. Involving stakeholders, including the business community and environmental groups, was seen as a priority.

There was some confusion as to what the task force should be charged with, though several said PAYT should not be the focus.

“I think it is too soon following last month’s council vote … to bring (PAYT) back up for further study,” Knight said. “To me, the community was just not ready to switch from property-tax-based solid waste disposal.”

“We need to get beyond PAYT,” Greenlee said, “but we do need a task force to incorporate the ideas that people brought forward. I don’t think it should be allowed to languish.”

Councilor Burt Barker agreed that several ideas floated during the PAYT debate could be considered by the task force. These include requiring vehicles dumping trash to have stickers or windshield tags identifying them as residents, charging for commercial waste and reviewing the plans for the transfer station rebuild project.

Knight said he expects a bond issue for the transfer station project to come to voters at the June 2017 town meeting. “We would need agreement on the design and a budget by late fall so I could include it in my budget proposal in January,” he said.

Friedmann said he was concerned that might not leave enough time for a process in which community input can be included. “Either we should go with this task force now, or we direct the town manager to delay the bond question. Citizens didn’t have a chance to participate in the design of the solid waste plan.”

The “matrix” process power company Emera Maine used with community advisory groups in the last few years to make decisions on facility locations was successful, Friedmann said. “It took time, but that’s probably what we need to do.”

Knight and Bowden noted that Emera used paid consultants to develop the matrix system, and it’s not clear who would pay for consultants if the solid waste task force wanted to pursue a similar process.


Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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