By Jon Bishop
DEVENS — The Devens Household Hazardous Waste regional collection center is a success, according to many of its participant towns. It serves Ashby, Ayer, Bolton, Devens, Groton, Harvard, Lancaster, Littleton, Lunenburg, Shirley and Townsend
It opened in July 2011. According to its website, the HHW allows residents and small businesses to safely dispose of their toxic waste. The center has collected such things as unused cleaners, leftover paints, pool chemicals and fluorescent bulbs.
The service has resulted in additional protections to area water supplies, the website notes. Last fiscal year, members disposed of 46,376 pounds of waste.
Tessa David of the Devens HHW said that towns have appreciated the service.
“All of the communities have found that it’s been cheaper for them,” she said. “They’ve all gained significantly.”
Initially, towns each had a collection once per year, but now, residents can dispose of hazardous materials twice a month.
Town officials echoed David’s comments. “Townsend residents,” said Town Administrator Andy Sheehan, “have consistently taken advantage of the center and our numbers continue to increase.”
“Townsend is very happy with the service and it was a great decision to join,” he said. “Without a doubt the Devens Household Hazardous Products Collection Center is a success.”
According to Sheehan, prior to joining Devens, Townsend “had hazardous collection events on an infrequent basis.”
“Looking back through budgets, we budgeted around $5,000 per year,” he said. “At most that provided one day per year, usually held jointly in another community, and there were several years in which no collection events were held.”
According to Tessa David, Townsend pays $4,457 per year.
Robert Pontbriand, town administrator of Ayer, said the town’s membership fee is $4,819.
“Prior to the establishment of the collection center, the town of Ayer did not have an efficient, cost-effective means of disposing of household hazardous waste,” he wrote via email. “As a founding member community, the town of Ayer is extremely happy with this service as are our residents.”
Butch Farrar, a member of Shirley’s Board of Health, said before Shirley joined the HHW, residents had nowhere specific to dispose of their hazardous waste. Their yearly membership cost is $3,179, he said.
Harvard, according to Richard Nota, director of Public Works, pays $3,907 per year.
“We’re quite happy with how it’s running,” said Timothy Bragan, Harvard town administrator.
Groton pays $6,176, Tessa David said. And, according to Regina Beausoleil, the administrative assistant for Groton’s Board of Health, people in Groton like having this disposal option.
David added that since Devens is the host community and it provides the site and facility support, it does not have to pay a fee.
She said that they’re “definitely open to other towns joining.” Communities split the pie: A larger community will pay more because it’ll have more residents than a smaller community, she said. It is a census and property values split — EQV, or equalized property values.
Interested communities can contact her and she’ll do a presentation for them, she said.