2016-12-02 / Front Page

Improved flow is sought for town’s transfer station

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — When Kennebunk voters go to the polls in June 2017 to approve the next annual budget, they may be asked to borrow as much as $1.66 million to overhaul the transfer station.

Located at the highway department complex on Sea Road, the site is problematic, Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said, because accessing it means mingling passenger vehicles with heavy equipment.

“One of the key items we have been concerned about for some time is how the traffic flows through the transfer station and comes back out in-between the town garage operations,” he said. “We’ve always been a little bit fearful that someone will be driving through there and one of our trucks will back out and hit somebody, or vice versa.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s a mess, but it’s certainly not great,” Selectman Shiloh Schulte said of the current layout.

These concerns are not new. Three years ago, selectmen went on a media-chaperoned field trip to Ogunquit and Wells, to study solid waste operations in those neighboring towns, Tibbetts said.

At the Nov. 22 selectboard meeting, Tibbetts un- veiled a plan drawn up by South Portland engineering firm Sebago Technics for a new transfer station design.

What happens now is people will come in and park and we have residents walking through the garage, which is very dangerous,” Tibbetts said.

At a cost of about $899,000 to $1 million, the project calls for segregating “civilian” traffic from the highway garage by creating a new two-way traffic lane on the extreme southern end of the property.

A series of retaining walls, traffic dividers, and automated gates will mean only residents with a specific need will be allowed onto the section of the property hosting the highway crews.

Meanwhile, the town’s contracted solid waste hauler, CPRC of Scarborough, will redesign the recycling facility to create a one-way flow of vehicles to and from the traffic lines leading in and out of the station.

The change, which will require the town to move its salt shed, and build an adjoining one for sand, should leave room for CPRC to install the weigh station it agreed to put in when it won the town contract in 2015. Tibbetts said the cost of the weighing equipment, estimated at about $100,000, will be borne by CPRC.

“They’re ready to do it. We just need to get the site to a point where they can do it,” he said.

The balance of the $1.66 million project would be spent on the public works facility, to connect the site to the town sewer lines. It’s currently on a septic system.

Also on tap is construction of a wash bay, allowing crews to better clean trucks of roads salt during the winter months.

“In the long term, that extends the life of our equipment. That’s really key,” Tibbetts said.

Finally, for residents who do need to visit the highway garage, a new receiving and reception area will be added.

“Right now, we have people just walking though the garage, which can be really dangerous,” Tibbetts said.

Overall, Tibbetts said, the price tag of the project should be taken as a bargain, when compared to the $14 million South Portland is spending on its new public works complex, or the $6 million reportedly flying out of Westbrook coffers for its new facility.

“It sounds like a lot of money, and it is a lot of money, but when you compare what other towns have gone though trying to deal with this, we’ve done really well to minimize expenses and utilize this site to the max,” he said.

Among selectmen, board chairman Richard Morin was the most effusive about the need for the project, particularly on the highway garage side of the new dividing line.

“Those guys perform miracles in this town in a facility that ... well, I can’t think of anything we have that is in worse shape,” he said.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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