BOWDOINHAM — Bowdoinham selectmen Tuesday delayed a decision to relocating the town’s recycling operation over the winter after residents criticized them for considering the using the fire station temporarily.
The town wants to relocate its recycling program for the winter, after an engineering firm and the state fire marshal’s office found safety issues with the current recycling site.
Bowdoinahm leases part of a three-story building on Post Road from David Berry and has closed the building to the public. The recycling barn houses the town’s recycling operation, including the recyclable materials residents deposit.
The town hired a firm to inspect the building over the summer. That firm questioned whether the roof can support the weight of snow during the winter.
The three employees who work there have been asked to limit their time in the recycling barn. Dumpsters have been placed outside the building to collect material.
“We have staff currently operating in a facility in which they should not be,” Interim Town Manager Nicole Briand said Tuesday. “I know that folks are not happy (the recycling barn) has been closed to the public and that they might not agree that employees should not be there, but that doesn’t change the reports that we have.”
At a Sept. 22 meeting, Briand said the town could temporarily move the recycling program to Mailly Waterfront Park off River Road, a former public works property, or the public works department on Pond Road.
Tuesday, Briand recommended moving the recycling program behind the fire station on Post Road, which is just under a mile from the current recycling barn. She said the fire station already has facilities for the employees.
Fire Chief Arthur Frizzle said while it’s not an ideal situation, there is no concern it would cause an “undue hardship” on either the fire department or the recycling program.
However, Selectmen chairperson Peter “Tony” Lewis said he received complaints from residents about the proposal due to safety concerns.
Bowdoinham resident Steve Cox said that when the town approved building the new fire station at a town meeting in 1996, residents were assured the site would only be used for emergency services.
Cox urged the town to explore whether a neighboring town can take the town’s recycling on a temporary basis, which Briand agreed to look into.
Cathy Curtis, chairperson of the town’s solid waste committee, suggested the town put an office trailer at the current recycling barn and keep the recycling program there for the winter.
Selectwoman Judy Gray asked to hear recommendations from the solid waste committee, adding, “I’m not prepared at this point to close the door to any solution.”
Selectmen plan to meet with the town’s solid waste committee Monday, Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss its next steps, including whether curbside recycling will continue.
“If we want to have an operation on Nov. 1, decisions need to be made at that meeting,” Briand said. “Or we will be having to suspend our (recycling) operation until decisions are made.”