Cape Elizabeth panel proposes $1.3M redesign of Recycling Center

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CAPE ELIZABETH — A committee report calls for a long-term redesign of the Recycling Center that includes using outdoor trash compactors instead of a hopper building.

Town councilors received the report from the Solid Waste and Recycling Long Range Planning Committee on Monday, Sept. 14, and unanimously accepted it.

The committee’s recommended redesign will cost $1.3 million, with an annual operating cost of $589,000.

The 158-page report was created after eight months of work by the panel, which was formed last December to find a long-term solution for improving safety and traffic flow at the Recycling Center.

The push for increased safety followed the death of former Public Works Director Herbert Dennison, 79, who was killed Nov. 24, 2014, when he was hit by a car and knocked into the two-story trash hopper. Christine Sharp-Lopez, 72, was backing into the hopper area when she struck Dennison.

A new traffic pattern that prohibits drivers from backing up went into effect at the center on Jan. 21. Town Manager Mike McGovern in January said the change was intended to be a short-term solution, while the committee worked on something more permanent.

According to the report, the committee found that the trash compacter and the building it’s in were both in need of repair. Woodard and Curran, the engineering firm hired by the town, said it would cost $471,000 to do repairs and continue using the facility.

The committee is recommending that the hopper building be used for electronic waste, an office, and the town’s radio communications system, and for stationary outdoor trash compactors for use by residents. There would be multiple lanes for only forward-moving traffic at the compactors, where residents could dispose of trash and recyclables. 

There would also be a bypass lane for residents who want to go to the Swap Shop, Bottle Shed, or other areas of the center, and traffic islands to separate the Swap Shop and Bottle Shed from traffic leaving the center.

At Monday’s meeting, Councilor Jessica Sullivan, chairwoman of the solid waste committee, said the outdoor trash compactors will cost $13,800 more than it will cost to repair the existing compacter, but would save more than $50,000 each year in hauling fees.  

Sullivan said the new design would be in place for the next 25 to 30 years.

“Not only will these changes best serve the town’s residents now and in the years to come, but they will also prove to be a more efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” she said.

Councilor Molly MacAuslan thanked the committee for its “inclusive” report, which she said looked at many different issues and factors.

“This is an incredibly impressive report,” she said. “Thank you.”

Councilor Jim Walsh also expressed his appreciation.

“We thank you for your service to the town and really contributing to a long-range plan that ultimately is going to serve citizens for years and years to come,” he said.

Councilors will further discuss the report at an Oct. 19 workshop meeting.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Cape Elizabeth’s Solid Waste and Recycling Long Range Planning Committee has recommended a redesign that would have residents drop off trash in outdoor compactors at the Recycling Center, instead of using the existing two-story hopper building.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.
  • Joe

    Well well, can you believe Cape Elizabeth Councilors are thinking about another way to increase our already “highest in the state property taxes”! Spend, Spend, Spend with no relief in sight. Don’t move to Cape unless you work in Boston, because you can’t make enough in Maine to pay the never ending property tax hikes.