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Sunday, October 20, 2013

MY TAKE - Wallingford wins border dispute / Meriden Landfill / 91 N. Turnpike Road

Political cartoon as published in the Record Journal on Sunday October 20th, 2013


On Tuesday October 15th a story titled Wallingford wins border dispute was published in the Record Journal.

In the story the details that were outlined how the city of Meriden was denied a request for a special permit application to create a “disposal cell” on a six-acre portion of the South Meriden landfill, the portion that sits in Wallingford, which was capped in 2006.

Meriden submitted plans to the Wallingford Planning and Zoning Commission to reopen part of the landfill as their officials had hoped to store waste from street sweeping and catch basin remnant materials accumulated by the Public Works Department.

The same type of street sweeping and catch basin remnant materials that Wallingford stored at 91 North Turnpike Road.

Meriden needed approval from the Wallingford Planning and Zoning Commission to move forward but in August 2007, they unanimously to deny Meriden’s application. Officials on the PZC at the time said the project posed dangers to public health, safety and welfare.

According to the article “In 1980, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection began studying the effects of the landfill on the aquifer. In 1987, dangerous levels of trichloroethylene – a human carcinogen – were found in one of the wells fed by the aquifer under the landfill. State Rep. Mary Fritz, D-Wallingford, said the state spent about $1 million to clean the site in 1989, and that she felt opening up the landfill for further use was not ideal.

Meriden officials said at the time they did not plan on storing hazardous materials at the site.

I would remind everyone that Wallingford fought this very hard because of a prior issue with what was in the materials and how it affected the protected aquifer. It didn’t matter that Meriden assured us that they were not going to store hazardous materials there; we didn’t want to take the risk. The PZC understood that potential risk and they denied the application and when Meriden took us to Superior Court to appeal the court agreed with Wallingford.

Fast forward to 2009 and we have a situation where DEEP and the Wallingford Inland Wetland and Watercourses Commission that it is in violation for it’s continued use of 91 North Turnpike Road, which sits on top of a protected aquifer, FOR THE VERY SAME REASONS WE STOPPED MERIDEN FROM RE-OPENING A CLOSED SECTION OF THEIR LANDFILL WHERE IT SITS IN WALLINGFORD.

And when I asked why we are still using 91 North Turnpike Road, the Director of Public Works tells myself, the remainder of the Wallingford Town Council and the Mayor as follows (as reported from the Record Journal):

The practice continued, McCully said, as a “very large load of sand from street sweepers” remained stockpiled at the site.

“There’s nowhere else to put the sand,” McCully told Zandri. In a given year, McCully said, the town purchases between 5,000 and 7,000 tons of sand mixed with salt. It needs to be kept somewhere, he said, and another location wasn’t found because “I had higher priorities.”

Zandri pointed out that McCully has had four years to address the issue. McCully said he looked into using the resident drop-off area for storage, but the material was not suitable to the area. Asked by Zandri if it was a fair assessment that “no effort was made over four years to find another location,” McCully agreed.

It wasn’t the intention to keep the material stored at the “dog pit” long term, McCully said, and the plan was to remove it after 2009, but “obviously it never got to that and I accept responsibility for that.”

So I ask the residents of Wallingford, if Meriden simply started using their landfill area again, the portion that rests in Wallingford, and “got away with it” for four years with the excuse of “there is nowhere else to put the sand” and backed that up with “we accept responsibility for doing that” would we be as forgiving and willing to just say “OK – well…. just don’t do it anymore”?

I do not believe so.

This Tuesday, October 22nd, there is an item scheduled to be on the Council agenda titled “Questions and answers of the department head of Public Works and the Mayor regarding the activities, total costs, and accountability to the taxpayers of Wallingford for town property located at 91 North Turnpike Road.  Activities to include, but not limited to, street sweepings, disposal of catch basin materials, discharge from the Vac Truck, and street millings” – I encourage you to attend the meeting or at the very least watch it on GTV once it is available for viewing; it will show that this is much more than a four year problem and it will show just how aware the administration was of everything going on.

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