A short history lesson of the relationship between Northside Carting, Salem and the transfer station.
In 2002, Northside Carting, Inc.(hereinafter"NSC), was awarded a five year lease agreement with an option for five, single year extensions. Under article five of this lease was the language that stated "as further consideration for this lease, NSC agrees to be responsible for conducting and completing the Landfill Closure at the premises mandated by the DEP pursuant to the ACO attached hereto as Exhibit "A". However, in no event shall Northside's financial obligation for this specific obligation exceed Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00)........". Unfortunately, the lease did not include set dates when any of this work was to be completed. There was no penalty section in the event NSC did not complete any of this work.
In 2005, the DEP sent a letter to the City regarding a few potential ways to remediate the transfer station property. Beta Engineering, which was employed by NSC, followed up with a letter to the City and recommended the option that was very favorable to their client, NSC. In this writer's opinion, the City then got into business with NSC. Much of the money that was to be used to remediate the site was used to design what the site would look like with a new transfer station building at the present location. Here are a few issues with this: (1) The $500,000 that was supposed to go into remediation is now used up on a design plan (2) At the time of this agreement, the land was and still is owned by the city and has not been declared surplus or been put out to bid. It appears the city made a deal with NSC for them to develop the land in exchange for the property. This seems to violate the Salem's land policy and procedures, located under the Salem Code of Ordinances sec 2-1635 (3) This change in how the $500,000 was to be used was a major modification of the language in the original lease and may have invalidated the lease. At the very least, it should have been addressed by the City Council. The money that was to be used to remediate the site is now gone!
In 2007, the original lease expired and the City Council granted a six month extension. In 2008, council order #465 was referred to the Committee of the Whole. The order was for a one year extension on the lease. It would also allow the Mayor to execute an additional one year lease. At this time, there was no paperwork found that shows what happened to this order. The Mayor has been using a loop hole in the City Charter to continually allow NSC to stay on the property. The City Council only looks at city contracts that are three years or longer. In this writer's opinion, NSC can be viewed as a tenant in sufferance or a tenant at will. Either way, the City Council has no say in their lease of the property.
What is collected today at the transfer station?
The present transfer station collects building materials, yard waste and the like and currently operates at roughly 21.6 tons per day.
Annual daily averages are going down every year.
72.8 average tons per day
73.9 average tons per day
51.6 average tons per day
25.4 average tons per day
21.8 average tons per day
What are the proposed changes to the transfer station?
The planned expansion of the transfer station will include increasing the facility to allow 400 tons of residential and commercial garbage daily. This is over 2 million pounds of garbage coming into Salem neighborhoods daily from surrounding cities and towns and the same 2 million pounds of garbage going out of Salem. (400 tons = 800,000 pounds)
The current transfer station would be remediated and a new building would be built. Sounds great but here's where the red flags pop up. The DEP's recommendation is that the tipping floor, alone, of a 400 ton facility be 14,000 sq. feet. The NSC proposal is for the entire building to be less than 9,700 sq. feet. This is a huge concern, as is the Board of Health's decision to move this project forward!
So why is the proposed facility only planned to be 9,600 sq. ft? Because keeping it under 10,000 sq. ft. allows NSC to avoid going before the Salem Planning Board which could have, again, protected your rights! That's right, the deal is for an undersized facility to be built on an undersized parcel to allow an increase of up to four times the current permitted tonnage and close to twenty times the reported actual tonnage.
Neighborhood and City concerns with the suggested expansion
Transferring solid waste from surrounding communities for processing here in Salem may be a very unhealthy decision! Garbage from households, companies and construction sites will be piled up and processed here, with a dispersion stack to send airborne odors, particles and contaminates over our homes, yards and businesses. Trucks will be releasing swill on to our roadways, while polluting the air with diesel fumes and particulate matter. Disease carrying rodents, seagulls and insect populations will rise creating additional health risks that may affect you, residents and businesses alike.
NSC has already admitted that they can not control the direction of airborne contaminates, so why are we going to allow this to happen in our city?
The current transfer station is located at the gateway into Salem near the busiest roads- Highland Avenue, Traders Way, First Street, Swampscott Road and Marlborough Road. It is also near many condos, homes and businesses that will be burdened by the increase of traffic. The magnitude of an 800,000 pounds (400 tons) per day facility will surely impact traffic. That's almost 2 million pounds round trip through our neighborhoods. This will impact pedestrians, bikers and drivers. One 65 foot super trailer trash truck is the equivalent of 4 or 5 vehicles. That's an entire light change! Is this how our residents and businesses should be burdened?
NSC's traffic study did not account for leaf and brush disposal trips or for white appliance recycling and Saturday business activity, mid-day peak hour traffic volumes or the increased congestion due to longer wait times caused by large diesel trucks that have difficulty accelerating and decelerating. Furthermore, the study does not take into account any bottle neck potential, as trucks will arrive at undesignated times. The report also incorrectly uses traffic data entering the site and suggests that the same "size and type" of vehicles will be entering and exiting the site. Not correct. The majority of traffic over the current 21.6 daily tonnage volume will come from large diesel polluting trucks. Air pollution and safety risks will certainly increase!
Other useful information: Currently, 6.5% of vehicles going west on Swampscott Road towards Highland Avenue are large diesel trucks. This is a very high number when the average of large diesel trucks on most roads is 2% or less. The study doesn't explain this either. We have a large number of diesel trucks coming from Aggregate Industries since their reopening along with trucks utilizing the chipping and composting company. The state rating of the intersections of Swampscott Road and Highland Avenue is already at the lowest standard level. Why would we make it worse?
FinancialHardship to Residents and Salem
Businesses and residents have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their investments and the expansion of the transfer station will create an undue hardship. Residents and business owners run the risk of inhaling odors and harmful pollutants due to the operation of the facility. Families may not feel comfortable having their children outdoors, while shoppers, pedestrians and bikers may avoid the area completely as a result of an increase in airborne contaminates and safety related concerns.
A decrease in property value is absolute. Who would want to live in an area where such a business would foster health and safety concerns? Massachusetts General Law requires the Board of Health and all governing bodies to take all necessary precautions to ensure a safe environment for it's citizens to live and work. We don't believe that they have done so!(M.G.L. Ch.111, DEP 310 CMR)
Air quality is important, as many adults and children are now susceptible to pollutants. Some infants and children have asthma and other respiratory conditions that are of great concern. NSC made it clear that businesses and residences alike could experience odors from the facility and that they could not control the direction of odors or other potential contaminants generated by the facility.
Major Losses to the City in Property Taxes
There are over 500 condominium units located within a stone throw of the proposed expansion. These units pay millions of dollars in real estate taxes to the city of Salem. The property values would decrease minimum 10% and potentially 25-40% from the expansion of this site. The tax revenue lost to the city would be much more than the yearly stipend they would get from NSC. The only person getting rich off this proposal is NSC.
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