On August 22 as the meeting of the Carver Marion Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District (CMWRRDD) Committee began, committee member and Carver Selectman David Robertson passed out a page containing four motions written by Carver Town Administrator Michael Milanoski, who was not present.
It didn’t take long for several members to take umbrage that the motions were presented without adequate details, including financial impacts, that the committee could study.
Motion 1 asked the committee to approve changes in the hours of operations at the Benson Brook Disposal Facility located in Marion. Currently the facility is open five days a week – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sunday 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. The motion would change the hours to just two days – Wednesday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm and Sunday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Milanoski’s rationale offered with the motion reads, “Knowing that the CMWRRDD cannot afford two facilities in the future this will allow limited operations to determine the impact going forward and preserve temporary funding to where it will have more of an impact.”
Former Marion Selectman and Committee Chairman Steve Cushing’s reaction was, “Are we cutting our nose to spite our face?” He said he hadn’t seen any financial documents to support the motion, a sentiment echoed by Marion Selectman Norm Hills.
Marion Town Administrator Paul Dawson said, “This sheet of paper contains points of view that Michael has been trying to lead us to for some time.” Dawson said that costs associated with shutting down Benson Brook and moving everything to the Rochester location were unknown.
“We are not close enough to make a rational decision,” said Dawson. He asserted that, in his opinion, a new executive director would be responsible for vetting such changes.
Hills pointed out that before Rochester could accept more volume, the wetlands would have to be delineated, putting into question the space available at that location.
Robertson commented that the motions as presented might not be the direction the committee was willing to embrace, adding, “I’ve been here since November and I’m not sure we know what direction we are going in.”
Dawson pointed out that before Benson Brook is closed, the committee needed to understand that the property had been conveyed to the district for $1 and that if the district no longer used the facility, the property would revert back to the Town of Marion.
The other three motions offered by Milanoski were: 2) to release a request for pricing for private haulers to lease and operate Benson Brook, which would provide the CMWRRDD with a revenue stream making the facility self-sufficient; 3) close down Benson Brook effective December 31, 2018 and transfer all functions to Rochester; and 4) to authorize the three town administrators to negotiate a grant from Covanta equal to what the spend rate would be for the next two years.
Cushing asked that the motions be tabled for now, saying, “Nobody on this committee can pull all this together.”
Dawson asked about qualifications for a new executive director if the position was to be filled.
There was some discussion regarding whether or not the position would be full or part-time and where a new director’s office would be located. This prompted a discussion about closing the rented office space on Island Wharf Road in Marion and carving out office space at one of Marion’s town facilities.
The committee decided to make decisions relevant to office space and storage needs at the next meeting.
“We need somebody who knows what they’re doing,” said Cushing.
Dawson said a new executive would have to develop a strategy plan. A grimmer reaction came from Wareham’s Maintenance Director David Menard, who said, “We are on a sinking ship.”
Cushing’s reaction to that comment was, “We are meeting: we are paying our bills.” He went on to say that financial liabilities will linger into the future … “whether this thing folds up or not.”
“We sit here wondering about the finances,” said Dawson, “but we represent the people of the community and each community is different.”
Back to the matter of searching for a new executive director, the committee decided to meet again on August 29 to begin interviewing candidates.
The new executive director would replace former executive director Ray Pickles who, along with his wife Diane Bondi-Pickles and former Carver Health Agent Robert Tinkham, Jr., has been accused of defrauding the district since at least 2012 and faces a number of tort claims in Superior Court.
The next meeting of the CMWRRDD is scheduled for August 29 at 4:30 pm in the Marion Police Station community room.
Carver Marion Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District Committee
By Marilou Newell