Response to Dalton Landfill Pitch
To the Editor:
I woke up on my 90th birthday and somebody told me “Give it one more try” … and so I’m trying.
Twenty five years ago John Casella took a big gamble and bought the Bethlehem town dump which like many others in New Hampshire was an environmental disaster. There was no lining so water polluted by trash could go wherever the underground system took it. There was no engineering to capture harmful gases like Methane, so our air carried toxicity wherever the winds decided to blow.
It was, however, a great site for a landfill for two reasons: 1. It was surrounded on three sides by the White Mountain National Forest and since the prevailing winds and weather usually run west to east, any toxicity would run into 30,500 acres of trees and not into Bethlehem or our neighbors situated above and to the West of the site. 2. It was only 5.5 miles off Route 93 and access to the site was entirely through the forest eliminating any traffic impact.
There are those in my town who think Casella is a disaster, any landfill is a potential disaster and they just do not want any part of it. For the first 18 years, they talked the town into suing Casella spending over $3 million of our money and over $3 million of his, until finally in January of 2012 a brave Board of Selectmen negotiated a 10 year agreement with Casella which resulted in the best Waste Management System in New Hampshire, $450 thousand/year in free curbside pick up of Recyclables and Non-Recyclables, $250 thousand/year in a free transfer station and swap shop, $250 thousand/ year cash as Host Community Fee and $400 thousand/year cash in taxes. This adds up to $1.350 million which is over 50% of our total Municipal Budget.
Five years into this agreement, a new Board of Selectmen negotiated a new 20 year agreement which doubled the benefits to the town to $54 million or $2.7 million/year or 100% of our Municipal Budget. Casella also developed a new Waste to Natural Gas system which converts toxic Methane and makes it useful instead of burning it in the atmosphere.
Why then is Bethlehem so willing to kick out its largest business and Dalton so willing to fight his move to their town? It’s called Nimbyism. We all have an emotional reaction to certain “Ichs” in our life and human sewage and municipal waste are among them. If our town proposes to put the Town Water and Sewer facility on our street or the Town Landfill one street over, we will fight to the death .. whether or not the 500 environmental engineers in the State Department of Environmental Affair say it’s safe, will create no odor or toxicity and we’ll pay you for the privilege.
So to my friends in Dalton, let me say you are wrong if you think Casella will harm in any way Forest Lake. Our 500 environmental engineers back me up and they will not “permit” if they have any doubts and then they will “regulate” in case any negative unforeseen circumstances arise. You do have a legitimate traffic concern as the 90 waste trucks per day will come through the heart of Twin Mountain the heart of Whitefield and Bethlehem’s second main artery … but not through Dalton. You also are to the East of the landfill and lower than the landfill, but ask the residents of Trudeau Rd … they do not notice bad odors and their water is just fine.
Now to my friends in Bethlehem, you will miss Casella. You will miss his free services and the benefit to your environment that he provides. You will especially miss his cash,because you already have the highest tax rate in your area and it will go higher. Plus you will end up with the environmental risk of two landfills, because you are right below and to the east of the proposed Dalton landfill and you will get not only the 90 truck per day waste traffic, but the 1400 Bethlehem homes will all take 1400 weekly round trips over secondary roads, because you will not be able to afford the convenient pick-up.
I have put up 6 signs in Bethlehem with my phone number on them. If you missed them, the number is 603-869-2582. If you want to avoid this loss in our family and are willing to vote Yes … call me and I’ll do my best to give you a vote … and financial stability for 20 years plus the best Waste Management System in NH.
Bethlehem, New Hampshire