The City Council agrees to address the issues at the transfer station but how is still up for debate.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's transfer station has been operating without proper permits and has received notices of deficiency for more than a decade.
The state is threatening closure or fines if the city does not remedy the situation.
On Tuesday, City Councilor Jennifer Breen asked the mayor to explain the situation that has already cost the city more than $100,000 for engineers to assess the site.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said the state Department of Environmental Protection has given him a "strong sense that enough is enough" and the administrative officer is working to present an array of options by the end of the calendar year.
"There is impact on everything," Alcombright said. "Whatever we decide is what we are going to have to live with for a long while."
The issue dates back to the first notice of non-compliance in 2000 and there have been at least seven subsequent notices. The notices include delays in environmental monitoring, windblown litter, dumping of trash outside of the building, recycling being performed outside of the building leading to litter and inadequate security. The largest complaint is trash being dumped outside of the building, where the wind sweeps it away, according to Alcombright.
Since the station opened, the city has never filed an application for an operating permit, Alcombright said.
"We are not operating a permitted facility and never have been," he said.
While the majority of the City Council voiced agreement that something has to be done, the issue of the city hiring Tighe & Bond to study the landfill became a hot topic at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
"I think we all agree that we need to move forward," Councilor David Bond said. "It is clear that we have issues. Let's think about where we are now and where we want to be."
Alcombright said the engineers are designing a new station that has the capabilities to do what the city currently does there.
But, the council had not approved spending the money before the contract was issued and Councilor John Barrett III took exception to the lack of input.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said an administrative team is looking at all possible fixes.
"The city's broke folks and we're talking about spending $150,000 on a study for this," Barrett said. "I don't know if we should stay in the business of transfer stations."
He repeated some of his complaints from a meeting in August, during which he and the mayor began arguing over the transfer station's status.
Barrett said the impacts of spending upward of $2 million on a new facility could place heavy burdens on both residents and the commercial payers because fees would have to rise. Barrett said more input should have been sought before Alcombright hired the engineers.
Alcombright, however, says the study does not set the city on a certain path. Administrative staff is looking at other options including changes of operations or even closing it.
"We are certainly looking at other options," he said. "We're looking at all of these implications."
Councilor Keith Bona said he views the engineering work as similar to a feasibility study, which can be expensive. Entering that contract shows the state that the city is being proactive in trying to correct the problems.
Tuesday's meeting gave the councilors a chance to discuss the issue but no action was taken. Alcombright said he will continue with his administrative staff pursuing an array of options for further debate at a later time.