Don Siriani on July 8, 2014

Selectmen Hear Hopes For Compost Initiative

The following is a transcript from a portion of the July 8, 2014 Board of Selectmen meeting. For links to other portion of the meeting, click here.

7:34 p.m. – The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance from Selectman Kelly Ross, Selectmen Andrea Peraner-Sweet and Jim Sullivan were absent.

Acting chairman Scott Hazelton gave several announcements.

7:35 p.m. – Elizabeth Almeida of the Agricultural Commission gave an update on her committee.

Selectman Don Siriani asked Almeida a question about insecticide.

She answered, and Siriani was happy that the group was making efforts to help expand local agriculture.

Kelly Ross asked Almeida who will take a leadership role in advancing agricultural programs, such as community gardens, proposed by the Agricultural Commission, with Almeida saying that assessment is still in process.

Kelly Ross asked if they needed anything, with Almeida just saying that they were looking for guidance from the board.

Don Siriani on July 8, 2014

Don Siriani on July 8, 2014

Hazelton requested that the Commission return with more information in a few months, particularly with a follow up on information obtained from the recent Strategic Planning Retreat.

Sharon Chu then came to the microphone to talk about a compost program being done by the Agricultural Commission, aiming to recapture yard waste that could be turned into compost.

Yard waste and food waste turned into compost could save the town money in trash removal fees.

She said that the Patrick administration is providing up to $1 million in grants for composting programs.

If a composting site was found, work would need to be done with several town boards, Chu then discussed work she had done to date in trying to find a composting site.

Chu asked if anyone was interested that they contact the Agricultural Commission and ask for her.

Siriani called the proposal ambitious and asked what infrastructure was needed for the project.

Chu said ideally there would be two to four acres that are drainable with a two to four percent slope as well as a tree buffer and distance from residents to guard them from odors, although a well managed compost site would have minimal odors.

Siriani then asked how much of Westford’s trash could be diverted to such a facility.

Chu said 12.9 percent was likely from food waste and 12.8 percent was likely from yard waste.

Kelly Ross asked if any other towns were doing composting programs like this.

Chu said 200 municipalities in Massachusetts are, although most are limited, although some like Lexington are developing plants to create energy.

Kelly Ross then asked what the household participation would be.

Chu said that it would vary depending on possibilities like transfer sites and other issues.

Kelly Ross then asked if there would be anything problematic with the current garbage contract.

Assistant Town Manager John Mangiaratti said that a contract with Covanta (which hauls much of Westford’s waste) would prohibit this proposal only if all compost in town was taken.

Hazelton talked about a potential subcommittee, with Mangiaratti talking about compositing initiatives being done by the Recycling Commission, suggesting Chu talk to them.

Chu said she had and she had been talking to schools.

Hazelton asked the Agricultural Commission to come back with more concrete goals on the Community Garden and composting proposals. He made a motion regarding this, which was unanimously approved.

7:59 p.m. – Next on the agenda was a discussion to approve a funding agreement with the Massachusetts School Building Authority for the Day School’s accelerated repair program regarding window replacement.

It was unanimously approved.