Townwide trash pickup nixed; employees weigh in on Transfer Station

Transfer Station fans breathed a sigh of relief after all the members of the Select Board agreed at their Sept. 5 meeting that they would not be in favor of closing the Transfer Station and switching to townwide trash pickup.

The town plans to move to a pay-per-bag system in fiscal 2019, but Town Administrator Tim Bragan also had investigated the price of townwide trash pickup as a possible alternative, prompting public outcry. Select Board member Stu Sklar, liaison to the Transfer Station Committee, had asked for clarity from the board on the issue, saying, “It’s one of the subjects I get the most grief about.”

Also at the Sept. 5 meeting, Assistant Town Administrator Marie Sobalvarro presented a list of recommendations created at a meeting of Town Hall employees in July regarding sticker sales and punch cards. The list included editing the Transfer Station rules and regulations to make them more readable for residents and employees, eliminating punch cards and allowing credit card payments for disposal of bulky waste at the Transfer Station, and moving to a single sticker price for all residents. The Transfer Station Committee continues to discuss base sticker prices and trash bag prices as part of the pay-per-bag implementation plan it will eventually propose to the Select Board.

As for eliminating punch cards, Sobalvarro said that Guardian Information Technologies is working on a cost proposal for providing point-of-service purchases at the Transfer Station, and because Harvard is a Massachusetts Community Compact town, grants might cover most of the cost of the technology needed. Not included in that proposal or cost is the connection to the town’s fiber-optic network, which is necessary to avoid monthly internet fees for the Transfer Station service. When the town negotiated a new contract with Charter Communications in 2015, Charter committed to setting up a dedicated fiber-optic network to connect the Bromfield School, Town Hall, the Harvard Public Library, and the Transfer Station. But the Transfer Station was never connected, and the company continues to fight that part of the agreement.

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