Transfer Station Project Will Cost $2.9 Million More Than Anticipated

by Tim Wood
The solid waste disposal building at the Chatham Transfer Station. Its floor will be replaced as part of the upgrade to the facility.  TIM WOOD PHOTO The solid waste disposal building at the Chatham Transfer Station. Its floor will be replaced as part of the upgrade to the facility. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – Voters will be asked to come up with nearly $3 million to complete the reconstruction of the town’s transfer station in addition to the almost $5 million appropriated for the project last year.

Originally forecast to cost $4.9 million, the transfer station project is now expected to run more than $7 million.

The money will pay for all three phases of the work, including constructing a new garage and staff building, reconfiguring the recycling area and adding a new floor to the solid waste disposal building.

Last May, town meeting approved $4.8 million for the first two phases of the project, the garage and staff building and reconfiguration of the recycling area. Another $215,000 remaining from the design phase of the project brought the total available for construction to just over $5 million.

Bids on the garage and staff building, considered the highest priority for worker safety, were initially estimated at $2.1 million but came in at more than $3.8 million last fall. With owner’s project manager and other costs of $295,000, the final price was $4.15 million. The contract for the work was awarded to J.J. Cardosi.

Phase one, considered a lower priority, involved relocating and reconfiguring the recycling area. The bids for that work, originally estimated at $2.7 million, came in at more than $3.1 million. The contract for that phase was not awarded, Public Works Director Rob Faley told the select board March 12.

Given the financial issues, officials took the opportunity to redesign the project and incorporate a third phase, which involves replacing the concrete floor in the trash transfer building (the big blue structure).

“It really gave us the opportunity to rework the design,” Faley said.

The configuration of the facility was changed to minimize work over a large stump dump, which would have required extensive excavation up to 15 feet deep, Faley said.

The swap shop, previously planned for the area where the stump dump is located, was returned to its current spot, which was previously planned for employee parking. A plan to include trash compactors along backing up to the recycling area was abandoned, so that residents will continue to throw trash into the trash transfer building. The floor of that building has seen rebar popping up, creating voids where runoff infiltrates and is difficult to remove. Adding that work, estimated to cost $305,000, to the overall project will ultimately save money, Faley said.

With the changes, phase 1, including the tipping floor, is estimated at $3.7 million. A 10 percent contingency adds $340,000. Together with the $3.8 million contract awarded for the garage and staff building, the total estimated construction cost comes to approximately $7.5 million. With the funds already appropriated, the shortfall needed to be approved at the May town meeting comes to approximately $2.9 million.

Continuing to have residents throw trash onto the tipping floor is beneficial, Faley said. Often items thrown into the building should not be included in trash, and by moving the trash around with loaders, transfer station workers can identify objects that need to be removed.

“We’ll have fewer loads rejected,” he said.

“I like the design,” commented Select Board member Jeff Dykens. “Makes a lot of sense.” Although unhappy with the cost escalation, he supported the project. “What sways me to vote for this is that it’s so sorely needed,” he said.

“It’s a lot of money,” added board member Michael Schell. “It’s a lot more money than we thought we were going to spend.”

Nonetheless, the board voted unanimously to support the funding request. Since the money will be borrowed, the town meeting article will require a two-thirds majority to pass. Votes will also be asked to approve the borrowing in a ballot question at the May 16 annual town election; approval of that measure requires a simple majority.