Health Department to refine transfer station permit

WESTFIELD – Health Director Michael Suckau said that the Health Department sold its 1,300 transfer station access permit just hours before the Board of Health meeting.
“It gives us a great idea of the actual usage” of the transfer facility, Suckau said to the board last night, adding that the acceptance of the new permit by city residents “has been more positive than negative.”
Suckau said the department will begin to refine the permit process to make it more convenient for city residents to access the transfer station located at the Twiss Street facility.
Part of that refinement will be the hiring of at least one part-time gatekeeper.
Suckau said the process currently used to issue the stickers “is not convenient for anyone, the way we did it this year” and will be modified as the gatekeeper position is instituted.
“That 19-hour-a-week position was posted last week,” Suckau said. “Hopefully, next year, that will allow us to segue into moving all transactions to the gate, to make it more convenient for people.”
Suckau said that currently the access stickers are only available at the Health Department offices in City Hall and that many people trying to use the transfer station on weekends are turned away because of the lack of that sticker. The plan is to develop a process to allow the gatekeeper to collect the $10 fee and issue the stickers at the transfer station gatehouse.
“We have to set up protocols for those transactions and a way to account for the funds collected and the stickers issued,” he said. “Next year, we may look at making that a full-time position or adding a second part-time position.”
The Board of Health approved a sticker program for the Twiss Street transfer station Wednesday, April 11, in response to concerns raised by City Council members.
City Councilors raised a number of issues when Suckau appeared before the city’s legislative body on Jan. 5, 2012 to discuss improvements of and funding for the Twiss Street transfer station.
The council members concerns include non-resident and commercial use of the facility, expanding hours of access to city residents, upgrading services and generating additional revenue to support the solid waste and recycling programs.
Suckau said that a sticker program was recommended by consultants hired to assess increasing the capacity of the transfer station. The state Department of Environmental Protection currently caps the tonnage at 50 tons per day. Residential curbside trash collection accounts for nearly the entire current cap limit.
The city has been evaluating a request to increase that cap to 150 tons a day, which would allow it to expand the facility to allow commercial disposal.
Suckau, in response to questions poised by the board members pertaining to sticker renewal, said the department has a data base, on paper, which can be used to notify sticker holders of the renewal process next June. The stickers are issued on the city’s fiscal year, which begins July 1 each year and ends of June 30.
“We have everybody who has purchased a sticker, their addresses, so we can mail them renewal forms,” Suckau said. “We have 40 spreadsheet pages of names, but maybe we can get an intern to put that into the computer.”

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