OXFORD -The dilemma facing town officials these days is whether to spend perhaps another couple hundred thousand dollars or more to make the transfer station more user-friendly.

Other options include providing a state-approved space for demolition waste, stopping fees for small truckloads of brush and wood, or even, as Selectman Roger Smedberg suggested, doing away with the transfer station and have a curbside pickup system.

As for new rules passed in February, demolition waste is no longer accepted at the Smith Road station, and fees are being charged for everything from brush to wood to tires, furniture and shingles.

Now that spring is here, and more people are using the transfer station, the complaints have been piling up. A petition signed by around 200 people thinks all disposal fees should be dropped, since the cost of running the station is already paid for by their tax dollars.

Selectmen and the Solid Waste Committee grappled with the issue for more than two hours Wednesday but didn’t come to any conclusions. They need to know more about what it would cost the town to accept and process demolition waste, process waste oil, and whether the fees for brush and wood could be dropped, as many in town have requested.

Town Manager Michael Huston said that even if a curbside pickup system became something selectmen would be seriously considering, “it’s unrealistic to think that the whole thing would disappear,” referring to the transfer station.

The new rules came in the wake of an ordered overhaul of transfer station operations by the Department of Environmental Protection after asbestos had been found illegally dumped there. last summer

Town officials are nervous about accepting even too much brush, since state rules require that the pile can grow only so large before it has to be chipped and removed.

Transfer Station Manager Randy Pike said accepting demolition waste has always been a problem for the town, and he wasn’t in favor of spending the estimated $150,000 it would cost to prepare a concrete pad, build a road and shore up a retaining wall – not to mention the cost of containers.

The containers should be kept under cover, to keep out water, which is another expense, he said.

The Solid Waste Committee had talked about contracting with Norway-Paris Solid Waste to have Oxford residents dispose of demolition waste at that facility’s Frost Hill landfill in Norway. But the $1,500 monthly cost of doing that, plus the per ton disposal cost the town would take on, would over time cost as much as creating a demolition disposal site on Smith Road, the officials agreed.

At issue is how much responsibility the town should take for waste disposal, and how much should be taken on by residents for properly disposing of their special waste elsewhere.

“To me, if we’ve got a transfer station, it should be a full transfer station,” said Selectman Mike Thompson. But he acknowledged providing such a service would not come cheap.

Selectman Dennis Sanborn said it might make sense to talk to surrounding towns about coming up with a shared regional solution. Mechanic Falls and Poland face similar pressures to come into state compliance at their transfer stations.

Huston said it’s a simple matter of deciding what waste the town will take, and what it will not. “There is a cost to anything we take.”

Selectman Chairman David Ivey said residents should get more information about alternative ways of disposing of their waste.

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