Cape Elizabeth Planning Board clears the way for changes at Recycling Center

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Planning Board on Tuesday approved a plan to upgrade the town’s Recycling Center.

The board unanimously approved the site plan for the Recycling Center on Dennison Drive after almost two years of planning. The upgrades include creating more traffic lanes and parking, and having outdoor trash compactors, and is expected to be finished in mid-2017.

Voters on June 14 authorized spending $1.4 million to upgrade the Recycling Center. The Town Council approved the upgrades in February, but the plan also had to be approved by voters because, under the Town Charter, councilors can’t unilaterally approve expenditures of more than $1 million.

The upgrades were recommended by the Solid Waste and Recycling Long Range Planning Committee, which was formed in December 2014, to find a solution for improving safety and traffic flow at the center.

The push for increased safety followed the death of former Public Works Director Herbert Dennison, who was killed Nov. 24, 2014, when he was knocked into the center’s two-story trash hopper by a car backing up to the hopper.

Previously, people backed their vehicles into the hopper building and disposed of trash. But as part of a short-term solution, they now park outside and walk trash into the building.

The upgrades will involve not going into the building at all.

Public Works Director Bob Malley and Megan McDevitt, of Portland-based engineering firm Woodard & Curran, presented the final plan to the Planning Board Tuesday. 

There will be five traffic lanes, one of which will be for bypassing vehicles. Four lanes will be for people who want to access one of five outdoor, stationary compactors. Two compactors will be for recycling and three will be for trash.

The bypass lane will be for residents who want to proceed to the Swap Shop, Bottle Shed, or other areas at the center, and there will be traffic islands to separate the Swap Shop and Bottle Shed from traffic leaving the center.

The hopper building will be used for electronic waste, an office, and the town’s radio communications system. 

Five additional parking spaces will be added at the Recycling Center, bringing the total to 14.

McDevitt said the plan makes the Recycling Center safer, but people still need to pay attention to their surroundings.

“It is a parking lot,” she said. “Hopefully vehicles treat it very similar to your parking lot at your standard grocery store or shopping store, and that you’re aware of pedestrians.”

The board praised McDevitt, Malley, and the planning committee for their work on the plan.

“I think it’s been a good effort by the town,” Planning Board Chairman Peter Curry said. “I think the final product will be quite satisfactory.”

According to McDevitt, the project will go out to bid in early 2017. She said work is expected to start in April and should take 60-90 days to complete.

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

The Cape Elizabeth Planning Board has approved a plan to upgrade the Recycling Center that includes creating five lanes of forward-moving traffic and five outdoor trash compacters. Construction is expected to begin in April 2017.

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.