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Update on the Status of the Dedham Transfer Station

Post Date: 06/25/2018 11:13 AM

The following is provided in an effort to update the residents of Dedham on the status of the Dedham Transfer Station:

In 2012 the Town, through its Department of Public Works, began a process of designing and permitting a more modern transfer station on the site of the present transfer station.  The present facility dates back many decades and was designed and built as an incinerator.  This evaluation was funded by an appropriation voted at Town Meeting.  For a number of reasons, the operation of a transfer station in the present configuration is not optimal.

The present transfer station is operated by a private firm under a lease agreement with the town, on town land.  In the present use, no curbside recycling or trash from Dedham is taken to the station.  The present lease expired and was not renewed in anticipation of the redesign and construction of a new facility.  The operator of a potential new facility would be selected by a procurement process and would enter into a lease with the Town to build and operate a transfer station.

During the process of investigating options for the design and permitting the potential new facility, a question was raised regarding the access from the Providence Highway entrance to the site.  This spring, the town’s attorneys commissioned a title search to answer the question.  The answer came back that part of the present and planned site was not owned by the town, and a section of the access from the Providence Highway side of the facility was not owned by the town. 

The present building and the smokestack that is appended to it were built more than 50 years ago.  The condition of each has deteriorated over the years.  The smokestack holds multiple antennae arrays for cell phone carriers.  The lease for those carriers produces about $220,000 a year in revenue to the town. 

Concurrent with the effort to design a new station, the repeated requests to place updated equipment on the smokestack precipitated a study to determine the capacity of the smokestack to support the equipment.  The incinerator has not been used for decades and the smokestack serves no other purpose. 

An evaluation conducted in 2016 concluded that the smokestack continues to decline and that bricks have begun to dislodge from the structure.  This progression would eventually create a problem with the structure in the future if not remedied and presents a problem with the bricks dislodging at present. Subsequent to that report there were a number of conversations with the carriers and different plans evaluated to repair the smokestack.  The consensus is that the best course of action is to take the stack down.

The long term viability of the site as a transfer station is in question, although the prospect of redesigning the station has not been ruled out. 

The short term approach regarding the smokestack has evolved given the complexities associated with the access issues to the site.  The approach as it has evolved is to permit a replacement cell tower, move the cell network equipment off of the smokestack, and proceed to demolish the smokestack.  It is not clear yet to what extent that will interrupt the present operation of the transfer station, but it will almost surely require the closing of the facility during demolition.

The Board of Selectmen and the Town Manager are in the process of gathering as much information as possible with the objective being an approach that addresses the issues with the smokestack and provides a plan for the future of the transfer station as a whole.  We have engaged the firm that did the 2016 evaluation to re-evaluate the smokestack and update their report.  We are also looking into a report that an outfall adjacent to the facility registered high in potential pollutants.  It is not clear when the discharge was measured.  We continue to monitor the level of odor present at the site from time to time. 

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