Loan OK for landfill work expected

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POWNAL — The town is moving forward in its efforts to study and remediate an inadequately covered landfill, with loan approval expected this week.

The town's application for a no-interest state loan to help in that process is in the process of being approved, said Thomas Brown, Clean Water State Revolving Fund project developer at the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Approval of a $19,534 loan is expected sometime early this week, Brown said in an email.

The Select Board had requested $500,000 in the loan application, he said. The loan will be amended in steps as the project progresses and the town learns what needs to be done, and how much it will cost, Brown said.

"That cost will be amended to the existing loan," he said.

This loan would be for the preliminary engineering for the development of an investigative approach and a Phase II work plan for the project, Brown stated.

Officials will also provide 50 percent additional subsidy for the loan in the form of loan principal forgiveness, so the town will only have to pay back $9,767 of the loan at 0 percent interest, Brown said.

The no-interest loan comes from the revolving loan fund. Repayment would begin five calendar years after the date of execution, Brown said.

Future planning expenses — like final design costs — would be eligible for another subsidy of 50 percent, up to a $100,000 maximum, Brown said.

The town has also applied for the project to be on the priority list for fiscal 2020, which takes into account environmental, public health and affordability considerations, Brown said. The final list will be released June 1.

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A walk-through at the former landfill site was done last summer to look for issues that might merit further evaluation, Town Administrator Michael Walker has said.

Phase 2 would be an evaluation; it calls for drilling and taking samples of water and materials in and around the inadequately capped former landfill.

The total cost for the project has been estimated at $750,000. The project is split into three parts: planning, final design and construction.

Possible problems with the landfill emerged after Green Lantern Solar, of Waterbury, expressed an interest in installing an array at the site.

"When we walked the property, it was blatantly obvious that it was not covered properly," Walker said previously said.

Besides visible refuse, a lack of records concerning the decades-old landfill and its closure has caused concern, he said.

In the past, companies operating in town used materials that are now considered dangerous, and some of those materials were dumped in the landfill.

At a meeting in April, the board voted to approve a revised engineering contract for anticipated work on the site. Chairman Bryan Harris, Marlena Pellon, Elizabeth Rowe and Harry "Jamie" Percey Jr. voted in favor; Bob Jarvis, who attended the meeting via phone conference, abstained.

A new contract had to be signed because the town's engineering firm, The Johnson Company, merged with another firm, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., Walker said.

It also had to be signed because the town's former contract didn't include items necessary under the state's Clean Water State Revolving Fund program. Some items, like testing and data retrieval, will be in the planning phase of the project. The town had previously thought these items would be part of the construction phase.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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