A new, state-of-the-art waste management facility could be in Rochester’s future after a group of planners presented a preliminary plan outlining the entire project. The presentation was made at the Rochester Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting on Monday, December 17.
ABC Disposal, a New Bedford-based disposal service company, bought a processing facility in the Rochester Industrial Park at 50 Cranberry Highway at the beginning of 2012. Now, they plan to demolish the existing building and replace it with and 89,000 square foot building that will handle the town’s recyclable and consolidated waste utilizing the most sophisticated technology.
‘There will be nothing like it in the world,” said Michael Camara, Vice President and General Manager of ABC.
The technology inside of the building will make it easier for residents to recycle. Instead of having to separate recyclables from non-recycleables, residents will be given a 108-gallon bin in which they can throw everything they care to discard. The technology will do all of the separating.
The machine will process an impressive 35-ton gallons per hour. The building will also be powered by 36,000 square feet of solar panels, making it even more environmentally-friendly. The developers will completely revamp the storm water disposal system.
This style of building has been increasingly popular in Europe in California, but has yet to become prominent on the East Coast. After construction, the facility is expected to create 35 jobs initially and will increase over time. Camara said Rochester residents will have priority over those jobs.
Camara, as well as Greg Wirsen of Green Seal Environmental and William Rhatigan of EcoTac,who are helping plan the project, have met with the Conservation Commission for some preliminary discussions of the project.
“We just want everyone to know what’s going on,” said Wirsen.
The three men will return in January with more specific project plans to present to the Board.
“This sounds like it has a lot of potential,” said Selectman Naida Parker.
In other news, the Marion Board of Selectmen and members of both the Marion and Rochester Boards of Health discussed possible changes to the join Health District status. As it stands right now, the towns are in a Regional Health District, but the Selectmen and Town Administrators from both towns feel like the towns could save money by becoming a joint district. By making the change, the towns could see $10,000 in savings annually.
But the Boards of Health in both towns are concerned that becoming a joint district, or an Intermunicipal Agreement (IMA), would not be a wise decision. Jim Perry, an attorney representing the Board of Health, explained that a Health Agent who works in a Regional Health District, reports to both town separately and is unrestricted. Under the IMA, she would have to be an employee of one town or the other, giving one town the upper hand on service and making one town pay more for salary.
The Town Administrators argue that with the IMA, they could save a lot of money on Liability Insurance and Workman’s Compensation. Furthermore, LaCamera stated that Rochester shares a variety of its employees with other towns and it has never posed a problem.
“We are spending all of this extra money we wouldn’t have to pay with an IMA,” he said.
While the current Regional Health District has been in place for 30 years, the Boards and Town Administrators are open-minded to saving money during the trying economic times.
“If there’s an opportunity for us to save money, we need to explore it,” said Marion Selectman Stephen Cushing.
“We just want to take something that is working well and reorganize it,” said Marion Town Administrator Paul Dawson.
These groups will meet again in January to further discuss the issue. A vote at the Spring Town Meeting is needed to complete the transition.
“Look very carefully at what you have before you throw it all away,” said Dr. John Howard of the Marion Board of Health.
LaCamera updated the Board on the project to renovate the exterior of Town Hall. LaCamera decided to discard the bid for the lowest amount of money.
“I was not happy with the references,” he said.
Instead, he went with the second lowest bid from Southeast Construction. The company will begin their repairs to the roof this week and will continue into next week before replacing the trim.
The Rochester Board of Selectmen will meet again on Monday, January 7 at 7:00 pm in Rochester Town Hall.
By Katy Fitzpatrick
“There has been plenty of time to discuss these issues,” said Rochester Town Administrator Richard LaCamera.