Royalston transfer station expenses being examined

Royalston officials will hold a meeting to discuss the future of the Royalston Transfer Station, which may entail closing the facility.

Royalston officials will hold a meeting to discuss the future of the Royalston Transfer Station, which may entail closing the facility. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

Costs for continuing to run the Royalston Transfer Station are being examined as officials decide whether the facility will remain open.

Costs for continuing to run the Royalston Transfer Station are being examined as officials decide whether the facility will remain open. PHOTO BY GREG VINE—

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 01-10-2024 5:03 PM

ROYALSTON – Residents will get a chance to voice their opinions regarding the future of the town’s transfer station later this month.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. Options being considered include keeping the facility open, signing an inter-municipal agreement allowing Royalston residents to use Winchendon’s transfer station, or choosing one of those alternatives and encouraging West Royalston residents to use the transfer station in Athol.

Officials hope more information will be available by Jan. 25 on the cost of keeping the facility on Town Dump Road open. Public Works Director Jaret Thiem informed the Selectboard at its most recent meeting that, contrary to initial assessments, it may not be necessary to run three-phase power into the station in order to operate the trash compactors. Thiem told the board it may be possible to swap out the motors in the compactors and replace them with drives that operate on single-phase power.

Selectboard Vice Chair Rick Martin told the Athol Daily News that officials believe it would cost less to replace the motors than it would to run three-phase power to the site. It’s not yet known what the cost for the new equipment would be.

“The cost, we definitely think, would be a lot smaller then if we had National Grid come in and change everything,” he said.

Martin said Health Board chair Phil Leger is working to gather as much information as possible in time for the public meeting.

“What he’s trying to do,” said Martin, “is determine what is the cost to the town to leave it the way it is, what is the cost to the town to leave it the way it is with three-phase (power), what is the cost to the town to change it to single-phase, what is the cost to the town to change over to Winchendon.”

Leger told the Selectboard in November that Winchendon officials agreed that Royalston could pay Winchendon $1,250 in the first year of a three-year agreement, then $1,500 and $2,000, respectively, in the following two years. Residents would pay the Toy Town $75 annually for a sticker and $4.25 apiece for bags, which would be purchased at Winchendon Town Hall.

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“We’ve also found out that Royalston residents are more than welcome to go to Athol, too,” said Martin, “and buy bags there and buy a windshield sticker there. So, a lot of the people in West Royalston may choose to go to Athol because it’s a lot closer than Winchendon, and the cost to them would be pretty much the same.”

Martin pointed out that many residents have expressed concern about the non-monetary cost of closing the transfer station.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the importance of the social aspect of the transfer station to the Town of Royalston,” he said. “We then have to ask, ‘How much are you willing to pay?’ When we did the budgets for this year, we’re running the transfer station at a $12,000 deficit. That’s an up-front cost right there. Now, if we have to spend – just for the sake of argument – $10,000 to change the motors, that’s a one-time fee. Is it worth $50,000 to change to three-phase – if that’s what it costs?”

Asked how the final decision would be made, Martin said he believes the Selectboard, acting upon a recommendation from the Board of Health, would make the final decision.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.