January 24, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority and the city are close to resolving a longstanding dispute about who will pay the $35.5 million needed to close and then monitor the agency's landfill in Hartford's North Meadows.
The agreement - details of which have not been disclosed as it is still being finalized - would unify the city and CRRA in efforts to secure state permits to keep the landfill open until 2008 and state money to close it.
The city council passed a resolution Monday authorizing Mayor Eddie A. Perez to enter into an agreement with the CRRA. Representatives for the trash agency and Perez's office declined to discuss the details, but heralded the deal as representing a new spirit of cooperation between the long-battling sides.
"It is still at a delicate stage, obviously, but we have agreed on a way forward," said Paul Nonnenmacher, director of public relations for CRRA. "This is definitely a promising development. We are working together."
The CRRA and the city, which owns the 96 acres underneath the landfill and has leased it to the regional trash authority since 1982, have been sparring for years over who should pay to close the landfill and, for the next 30 years, monitor its environmental impact.
CRRA has contended that Hartford, as the landowner, is responsible. But the city disagrees, saying the regional agency, and in turn the 70 towns that deliver trash to Hartford each day, should shoulder the cost.
To close the landfill, the trash authority must place a synthetic cap over the mounds of refuse on the property - a cost estimated by CRRA at $23.5 million. The land must also be monitored for three decades, at an estimated cost of $12 million.
According to the city council's resolution, if the agreement is signed it would absolve the city of all costs associated with the closing of the landfill. But the deal is contingent on CRRA's getting state money to pay for the closure, as well as getting permits from the Department of Environmental Protection to add 250,000 tons of garbage to the landfill and keep the facility open until 2008.
The deal would also include a package of benefits for Hartford, as the community that hosts the landfill the resolution says. CRRA officials and officials from Perez's office declined to provide details of that package.
Lee Erdmann, the city's chief operating officer, said Perez was heartened that the sides are close to an agreement.
"We believe this resolution is a win-win situation for the city of Hartford, for CRRA, for the 70 mid-Connecticut towns and for the state," Erdmann said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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