Today, the Island's new central transfer facility is doubtless the cleanest in the country. You can't find a piece of garbage, a floating trash bag, a tin can, not even a bundle of recycled paper anywhere on the 22-acre site off the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.
But all that will change quickly, beginning today.
This Tuesday, June 12, the new facility begins operation, which means Edgartown residents will begin taking their trash to the new transfer facility instead of the old dump.
For Edgartown residents, the change will take some getting used to. For the residents of the towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury, there is little change and they probably won't notice it, but their garbage will. This is the district's Grand Central Station for garbage on its odiferous way off Island. Nothing gets buried; everything moves.
Transportation of garbage off Island will be tidy, clean and fiscally efficient, district managers say. The new $1.3 million transfer station near the intersection of Barnes Road and the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road is a vast improvement over the old transfer station site at the Edgartown landfill off Meshacket Road.
"This is the way it should have been," district manager Charles A. Noonan, said. The old facility was truly a dump in many ways. "It is a disgrace," Mr. Noonan said. "I think it was a health hazard for my employees." The new facility will never be like the old. "We called the old place the chicken coop," he said.
Ten years ago, Mr. Noonan was hired by the district to move to the Island and get the transfer station built. That meant designing, filing for permits and building the plant. He came from Maine. "I thought I was going to be here two years. It took a lot longer than anyone planned."
The facility is state of the art. The district has spent $80,000 just to improve sound proofing at the facility. The district also spent $20,000 for a baseline bird study, an assessment on where and what birds reside on the Island. They hired Dr. Jeremy Hatch, a preeminent ornithologist and expert on sea gulls, to advise them. Sea gulls were a sticky point with the neighbors, who include the county airport; nobody wanted the gulls getting in the way of airplanes on takeoff or final approach.
Mr. Noonan said they consulted with top specialists with the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The garbage that will be dumped at the site will not be exposed to the outdoors. It all will be handled inside a building enclosing 5,200 square feet, big enough for an indoor basketball game. The building measures 80 by 68 feet and the ceiling is 35 feet. The sea gulls that have taken residence at the Meshacket Road landfill are going to have to find new sources of food: There's no place for them at the new facility, whose buildings are pretty close to bird-proof. There is nowhere for the birds to stand on the rooftoops, which are criss-crossed with wires.
Looking back over the planning process, Mr. Noonan said this week, "I know more about sea gulls than I ever wanted to know."
Mr. Noonan asks only for patience as everyone adjusts to the new facility: "Bear with us, it will take us a few days to get settled."