Cape Elizabeth Recycling Center overhaul gets high marks, comes in under budget

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CAPE ELIZABETH — After three months of construction, the revamped Recycling Center on Dennison Drive opened is open and seems to be running smoothly. 

On June 14, 2016, residents voted to allot $1.4 million for improvements to the Recycling Center after the death of former Public Works Director Herbert Dennison, who was killed in November 2014 after a car hit him and knocked him into a trash compactor at the center. 

One of the town’s goals for fiscal year 2015 was to review the 39-year-old transfer station and Recycling Center, but the project was fast-tracked after Dennison’s death.

In response to the fatal accident, a five-person Solid Waste and Recycling Long Range Planning Committee was appointed to study all aspects of the Recycling Center and to recommend long-term solutions for the disposal of solid waste. The study took about eight months and 20 meetings. 

On Aug. 31, 2015, the committee presented the Town Council with a 50-page report and analysis of solid waste and recycling, providing recommendations for how the town should move forward. 

The center now has three smaller trash compactors, rather than one large one. Six silver bullets have been replaced by two recycling compactors. 

According to Public Works Director Bob Malley, the openings of the silver bullets were 52 inches high, while the compactors are 48 inches high and much wider, making them “much more user-friendly to put the recyclables in.” 

Malley said that after finishing touches are completed at the station, including replacing the siding of the compactor building, the project will come in under budget by about $10,000, which will remain in the town’s bond fund.

Malley said one of the most significant improvements is the flow of traffic. 

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on it,” Malley said. “The biggest plus is that we’ve got everybody moving in one direction.”

Transfer station and recycling permits are given to residents with proof of year-round or seasonal residency.

On Wednesday morning, Jim Fortin, of Jewett Road, said he visits the center about three times a week. He said that if he could make one minor change, it would be to switch the trash compactors with the recycling bins so they would be the first stop in the flow of traffic. 

“I don’t have as many recyclables, so I have to go around to throw out my rubbish,” Fortin said. “(But) all and all it’s beautiful. I don’t think we could ask for a better facility.” 

Jeff Meuse, of Spurwink Avenue, and Heather Waxman, of Bayberry Lane, agreed that the renovation was needed and it was money well spent. 

“(The new system) increases flow through the entire process,” Waxman said. 

“It’s much easier now, with quicker access and allows more people to go through at once,” said Meuse, who stops by every three or four days. “But it might be overkill.”

Four lanes of traffic flow past each side of the two rows of compactors. Meuse feels that three would suffice. On Wednesday morning, the fourth lane was closed.

“Maybe on weekends it’s needed,” she said, “but I think the rest of the time it’s probably going to be two or three lanes.” 

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Cape Elizabeth residents use the renovated Recycling Center on Wednesday, Aug. 23.