Middlebury weighs in on recycling
MIDDLEBURY — More than 80 percent of Middlebury residents who answered a survey said they are at least satisfied with the town’s current curbside recycling program, but more than 73 percent of residents don’t want to see it combined with a trash pickup service.
Those were some of the results of an on-line recycling/solid waste survey recently completed by 323 respondents. Those survey results, and the recommendations of the ad hoc Middlebury Recycling Committee, will guide the town selectboard in deciding what kind of a curbside collection service to put out to bid for local haulers.
Middlebury’s current curbside recycling pact with Casella Waste Management is due to expire in the coming weeks. Before advertising that service to prospective providers, the selectboard is considering changes to the scope of services in deference to Act 148, the state’s new solid waste/recycling law. That law, among other things, regulates the material that will be able to go into landfills over the next six years. It calls for the diversion of materials ranging from food scraps to yard waste by the time the law takes full effect in 2020.
Selectwoman Laura Asermily and other Recycling Committee members will be meeting with haulers on Oct. 22 to hear their approaches to recycling, talk about Act 148, and gain more feedback that will be presented to the selectboard at its next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 28. Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay said the board at that point could elect to solicit bids for future operation of the curbside recycling service, or request an extension of the current pact with Casella in order to allow more time to sort out potential program changes.
“It may not be necessary to extend the contract,” Ramsay stressed.
Middlebury recently commissioned the firm DSM Environmental Services to look at the town’s recycling and related solid waste programs and how those services would have to adapt to Act 148. DSM last month released its report, which offered four potential options for the selectboard as it prepares to solicit bidders for its expiring curbside recycling contract. Those suggestions ranged from dropping the curbside recycling collection service and letting the private sector take it over to expanding the service to include curbside refuse collection and an organics collection option.
In other action on Tuesday, the Middlebury selectboard:
• Agreed to allow the Vermont Covered Bridge Society to place a small patch on the Halpin and Pulp Mill bridges that will include a bar code that can be scanned with smart phones, allowing tourists to instantly gather historical information about the spans. Irene Barna, a member of the Covered Bridge Society, explained the group wants to place them on all of the state’s covered bridges to provide a helpful educational tool.
“Vermont has the largest density of covered bridges per square mile,” Barna told the board.
“It’s information for our tourist dollars,” she added.
Weybridge has already given its permission to the society to place one of the bar code patches at its end of the Pulp Mill Bridge.
• Unanimously OK’d a pact with the Vermont Community Development Program that will allow for the release of federal grants and loans for the $3 million redevelopment and expansion of 22 affordable housing units on North Pleasant Street and John Graham Court.
At issue are the apartments at 31-37 North Pleasant St. and 31-56 John Graham Court, owned by the North Pleasant Street Housing Limited Partnership. Housing Vermont is currently a general partner and Addison County Community Trust is the property manager for the units, which have been dedicated for low-income families for the past 15 years. Those units are in need of substantial refurbishment, according to Matt Moore, a member of the development team at Housing Vermont.
Selectman Nick Artim said he hoped that organizations overseeing the apartments will make sure they are well-maintained.
• Announced that Oct. 27 has tentatively been set for moving Middlebury College’s Osborne House from 77 Main St. to its new location on Cross Street. Artim noted the move — a massive task that will see the house transported across the Cross Street Bridge — will likely occur in the wee hours of the morning.
“We expect a two- to three-hour process to move it over the bridge,” Artim said, noting an early morning move would not meddle too much with traffic and would minimize rubbernecking.
Once vacated, 77 Main St. will eventually be occupied by a new municipal building.
Meanwhile, planning proceeds for the construction of a new recreation facility at the site of the former Middlebury American Legion building off Creek Road. The selectboard on Tuesday agreed to accept the (lowest) bid of $8,975 from Morrisville-based Levaggi Environmental Contracting to remove asbestos from the old Legion building prior to its demolition.
• Learned that a special ad hoc committee looking into the future economic development of town-owned land behind the Ilsley Library will soon be soliciting requests for qualifications, or RFQs, from prospective developers. The committee had been looking at soliciting requests for proposals (RFPs) from interested parties. But the panel has learned that an request for qualifications requires less initial information from developers and allows the town to “cast a wider net” for entities interested in building some kind of commercial/retail/residential project on the land off Bakery Lane.
An RFQ typically requests a cover letter, summary of qualifications and examples of work from the company’s portfolio. This would then allow the town to target its RFP at companies that appear to be well-suited for the work based on their responses to the RFQ, according to Artim, a member of the Economic Development Initiative Working Group.
The committee plans on going over the RFQs in December, at which time its will send RFPs to the most qualified applicants.
Middlebury could “have a developer in place at the end of the first quarter of 2015,” Artim said.
• Discussed the possibility of making the Addison Central Teens group, which runs the teen center within the municipal building, a part of the Middlebury Parks and Recreation Department. Town officials agree that this would not mean that Middlebury would take over complete funding for the program; the six other Addison Central Supervisory Union towns would still be asked for funding. Addison Central Teens serves children from all seven ACSU towns.
• Received a report from the town’s Energy Committee about the possibility of Middlebury drafting an ordinance, or standards, that applicants should observe when proposing solar projects in the community. The proliferation of solar arrays throughout the state is raising an increasing number of questions among Vermonters about their aesthetic impact and their compliance with town zoning and other regulations (see related story, Page 1A). The Vermont Public Service Board has sole discretion in evaluating the larger “net metering” renewable energy projects that return electricity into the state grid. But some communities — like Rutland — have devised ordinances with directives that they hope developers and the PSB will consider when reviewing solar applications.
Asermily, a leader of the Energy Committee, said Middlebury’s standards for solar siting might include incentives to induce developers to locate projects in more unobtrusive parts of town. She noted Middlebury College students a few years ago did a town mapping project that might be of help in describing good locations for solar.
• Unanimously supported the purchase of one new and one used Trackless sidewalk plows for a combined price of up to $130,000. The machines will replace a current plow that has been subject to breakdowns and the used model will provide some redundancy for the height of the snow season.
The used machine has “low mileage” and comes from a small town in Maine, according to Dan Werner, the town’s director of operations. Officials hope the machines will do such a good job that less salt will have to be applied to sidewalks. Salt prices are up around 40 percent this year, according to public works officials.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].