Lace Bark Elm Planted at Landfill in Memory of Longtime Supporter

Landfill personnel had already planted the mature lace bark elm, now some 40 to 50 feet tall, not far from Dorothy’s Swap Shop, and they were ready last Saturday to dedicate that tree to the memory of the late Roland J. Dupont, a former selectman and landfill supporter.

A plaque had been mounted near the tree on a wooden base made by the landfill’s operations manager Asa Mintz, and Environmental Manager Philip A. Goddard was prepared to acknowledge Mr. Dupont’s contributions to the facility.

It was, landfill personnel agreed, a good time to look back at his work, which helped take the site from a “dump,” a word Mr. Dupont never used, to the modern facility it is today. Not only was the dedication part of an open house and Earth Day celebration, it was an acknowledgment of the fact that the Department of Integrated Solid Waste Management was ready to take its next leap forward, with changes coming that will be as important to the life of the facility as those Mr. Dupont accomplished.

Mr. Goddard said Mr. Dupont, who died unexpectedly last year, had begun in the mid-1990s to make long-term plans for the site, some of which are only now coming to fruition. General Manager Daniel Barrett, Selectmen Donald J. Pickard and Peter J. Meier, recycling committee members, and other members of the public were present for the dedication.

Mr. Goddard said he wished Mr. Dupont could have seen the new recycling center open, given the effort he put into the start of the town’s recycling operations.

Mr. Dupont’s widow, Charlotte L. Stiefel, removed the covering from the new plaque memorializing the tree’s dedication, as Mr. Dupont’s father, Joseph A. Dupont of New Bedford, and his sisters, Lynne Nunes of New Bedford and Pamela Felker of Berkley, looked on.

Ms. Stiefel said Mr. Dupont loved the landfill. He put his heart and soul, not just his back, into the place.

Once the plaque was revealed, and Mr. Dupont’s contributions acknowledged, Mr. Goddard got behind the wheel of a bus to take visitors on a tour of the site, talking about the efforts to take the operation to the next level as he drove.

He talked about the concrete pad going in for the new scales at the entrance to the MacArthur Boulevard site, and new roads going in past where the former residential recycling area once sat.

The heavy equipment lining the existing road provided much interest to a few of the small boys attending the open house; the results of the ongoing work of that equipment will be a separation of residential traffic from the commercial trucks coming into the site. It will be much safer, Mr. Goddard said.

He went past the construction and demolition transfer area, where, he said, the debris from a homeowner’s kitchen tear-down would go to be transferred, processed, and reused, some as landscaping material.

Mr. Goddard pointed out the compost pile, the product of 10 to 15 years of breakdown of organic materials such as leaves. Some of it will soon be ready for residents to take and use in home gardens.

The bus went past the huge blue tank used to store leachate, the liquid that collects at the bottom of the landfill after rainwater filters through the solid waste. It now costs the town more than a million dollars a year to dispose of it.

Mr. Goddard said one of the requests for proposals approved at Town Meeting last year resulted in a response from a company that would be willing to take over disposing of the leachate on-site, combined with a proposal to use landfill gas as part of a process called anaerobic digestion to create methane.

Responses to the RFP are still being reviewed, but Mr. Goddard was hopeful the town would be able to lease some of the small, designated sites for as long as 25 years, earning income for the town long after the site’s air space is filled and no more municipal trash is being accepted. He envisions solar arrays covering the capped site that, in concert with the uses made of the land and the gas being generated by private companies, would create something of an “eco theme park.”

The bus went by piles of clay and sand used in landfill lining and capping, and then around the perimeter of the landfill, stopping to point out the wild turkeys foraging on the grassy slope amid the pipes marking the landfill gas collection system that now sends gas to flare to be burned.

That, he said, is a waste of that gas, which personnel expect to be used to create energy in the future.

When he went by what he said was probably an active portion of the landfill, where seagulls were attracted to the trash being moved by the equipment operating there, he said both the birds, and the litter, would soon be going away.

“We can’t wait,” he said.

The town has recently signed an agreement with Covanta SEMASS that will bring in the residual fly and bottom ash that results after solid waste is incinerated at that facility. The ash is an inert product that will not attract wildlife, but will provide a steady stream of income for the department, and the town.

The operation will still be able to take in Bourne’s municipal waste, and possibly the waste of two to three other towns. In 10 to 12 years, when the landfill is full, SEMASS will accept Bourne’s trash for an agreed-upon price for up to 20 years into the future.

Mr. Goddard talked about the area where the old recycling center used to be, and pointed out the area where trash was removed and a new double liner was going into place.

He said he expects the entrance to the landfill and the area visible from the new roads to be cleaned up by fall.

Little by little, in the midst of larger projects, landscaping will go in, creating areas like the one surrounding the new elm tree.

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