Member of the Holbrook Board of Selectmen
TLA-Holbrook LLC proposes to construct and operate a 1,000-ton-per-day solid-waste transfer station. The facility would be located on a parcel of town-owned land that is currently leased by TLA pursuant to a lease and host community agreement.
This project is clearly in the best interest of the taxpayers of Holbrook. It is an opportunity for us to generate significant revenue for the town and clean up a polluted parcel of town-owned land. The Board of Selectmen unanimously supports this project, and the state has concluded that the location is suitable for a transfer station. Furthermore, the Holbrook Board of Health has set conditions to ensure that public health is safeguarded.
Due to our size and location, Holbrook has limited ability to grow commercially. As a result, we place a large burden on our residential taxpayers. The transfer station will allow us to greatly reduce that burden. There is a lot of misinformation regarding the financial benefits. However, the facts could not be clearer. Holbrook currently spends approximately $480,000 for trash services -- the town trash contract and residents’ bag purchases combined. This does not include homeowner payments to third-party vendors that many residents utilize.
In addition to free curbside trash pickup to be provided by TLA-Holbrook LLC, the station will offer residents additional services such as free dropoff of trash, recyclables, and bulky items. The town will also receive royalty payments, following the terms of the signed host community agreement, of at least $600,000 annually. The combined total of the free trash and royalty payments is more than $1 million annually. This multiplied by the 40 years of the agreement results in huge long-term benefits to Holbrook.
Moreover, historical environmental issues at the site will also be addressed during development of the facility, eliminating a significant liability for the town. In addition to state approval, the facility has received approvals from Holbrook’s Conservation Commission, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and, most recently, the Board of Health, These approvals are a clear consensus that this project is in the best interest of the town and should move forward.
As a Holbrook taxpayer, I appreciate that the town needs revenue. However, I think the proposed trash transfer station would be a mistake. There is significant concern among current residents in Holbrook and surrounding towns regarding proceeding with this project. The lease and host community agreement -- which was written almost a decade ago in 2009 -- only gives the town $1 per ton of garbage during the first 5 years. In spite of town officials saying they will renegotiate these terms, TLA’s attorney has said the company has an enforceable contract and doesn’t anticipate a renegotiation. What does this mean for our town?
We’re locking ourselves into a contract rate that is nearly 10 years old if we proceed! The town touts the fact that 75 percent of Holbrook voters approved the transfer station. However, that 2008 vote is almost a decade old and does not represent citizens who have moved into Holbrook in the last 10 years. We should not continue with this project without hearing from all current residents.
Holbrook has better, cleaner, safer, and greener options to grow revenue. There has been talk in recent years of pursuing a solar farm on the closed Holbrook landfill. Not only is this environmentally friendly, it would allow Holbrook to seek revenue in an industry projected to experience exponential growth.
The proposed site for the trash transfer station includes a contaminated area with chemicals from the Holbrook Chemical Co. and part of the Baird-McGuire Superfund site. Contaminants including arsenic remain at high concentrations in the groundwater of the Baird-McGuire site, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. I am concerned about disturbing these sites and stormwater and wastewater from the transfer station flowing into the adjacent Cochato River.
Moreover, the addition of a large volume of trash trucks to an already-clogged intersection across from our commuter rail station will bring noise, smell, exhaust, and damage to our roadways and cut into the funds received, as well as contribute to a lower quality of life for residents and abutting businesses.
The health, safety, and overall well-being of our residents should take precedence over potential revenue from this project.
Last week’s Argument: Should Massachusetts raise the maximum age for Juvenile Court jurisdiction?
Yes: 56 percent (9 votes)
No: 44 percent (7 votes)