Town Councilors celebrated the approval of a new recycling center after years of searching for a new location, but neighbors on Stanley Avenue were not in a mood for festivities with the facility being built on their block.
Tuesday night the Town Council approved a deal to purchase a 14,400-square-foot parcel for $350,000 for the new recycling center. The land is part of the parking lot for the former Boston Scientific building on Pleasant Street.
Town officials will use $407,932 the town received in a one-time municipal aid paytment to help cover the cost of the new facility.
“This is an exciting night,” said Town Councilor Susan Falkoff. “We found a new location for the recycling center, but my heat goes out to the neighbors.”
Residents of Stanley Avenue told the Town Council they do not want the new center next to their properties. Traffic, noise and smells from the center concern them. Some added that they did not know about the proposal until last week.
Marcia Sassoon, who owns a two-family home on Stanley Avenue where she runs Pooch Palace, a dog daycare center, said her street will change with the recycling center.
“When I moved there in 1994 it was a quiet, out of the way street with not much traffic,” Sassoon said. “The street is in bad repair. Traffic has increased tremendously with the Jewish Community Day School and now you are proposing doing this.”
Sassoon said she would prefer to have seen all the traffic go in and out of Green River Way.
Other neighbors said they worry about the smells that could waft over to their homes from the recycling center. Also, that trucks and cars would be idling at the center and sending carbon monoxide into the air.
Public Works Superintendent Gerald Mee said recycling will be collected in a timely manner, and pickup time will be shortened during hot weather when the smells would be produced more quickly.
Town Council President Mark Sideris said the center will only be open two days a week, Friday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and trucks will haul out recycling on weekdays during business hours.
Stanley Way is a private way, but now that the town will be one of the property owners responsible for the road, Mee said, some improvements will be made to the road – both underneath and on the road surface.
Long Time Coming
Town officials have searching for a new spot for the recycling center since 1979 when the Watertown Town Meeting (used before the town adopted a city-style government) agreed to turn the town’s dump in to a recreation facility – Filippello Park. The town committed $393,750 to the project and received the same amount in matching funds from the National Park Service, said Conservation Commission Chairwoman Marylouise McDermott.
Part of the agreement was to move the recycling center off the spot where it has been for many years, the basketball courts at Filippello Park. While the center continued to be at the recycling center, including threatening to go to agencies outside the town to enforce the agreement.
Town Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she should be happy about moving the recycling center from Filippello Park, which lies in her district, but she said she is not happy that the town has to spend more than $500,000 for the new facility: $350,000 for the land and $194,000 to equip it.
Kounelis was the only councilor to vote "no" in the three proposals: the resolution ot take the 76 Stanley Avenue property be eminent domain, the order to take the property and the transfer of funds to pay for the new center.
When the decision was made, Kounelis said, many Town Meeting members wanted to go another direction and wait until the town had enough money to do the project on its own and therefore would not have restrictions placed upon the project.
She also believes the town could have worked to move the center just down the road.
“We could have made the incinerator site into the recycling center if the Conservation Commission had worked with us,” Kounelis said. “We have a $500,000 expenditure to get this off the blocks. It is an unfortunate situation that we couldn’t work together.”
Best Site They Could Find
Sideris said he wants to move forward and make the new center work. He commended the work by Town Manager Michael Driscoll, Community Development and Planning Director Steve Magoon and DPW director Gerry Mee for finding the new site. He also thanked the Conservation Commission for being patient.
Town Council Vice President Steve Corbett said the site is not perfect, but it will work.
“I can’t tell you how many hours have been put into finding a location for a new recycling center,” Corbett said. “This location meets most of the requirements we have.”
The town had explored several locations for the center, from the East Side to the West Side of Watertown, Sideris said. They talked to Mount Auburn Cemetery on two occasions about using some of their land, and looked at sites on Bacon Street and Pleasant Street, Sideris said.
Town Councilor Cecilia Lenk said she wants to make sure the new facility is much nicer than the one on Grove Street.
“Given the concerns raised tonight, and given people live near here, we need to make it a first class facility,” Lenk said. “It does not have to be junky. We certainly have that now.”