Mayor Accuses Councilor of 'Political Grandstanding' on Landfill Plan
Councilor Jonathan Weydt says an agreement should not have been signed without input from his constituents.
Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas on Wednesday criticized an opinion piece written this week by City Councilor Jonathan Weydt in which he wrote that "Attleboro residents have been sold out" in a 2009 agreement on the proposed Attleboro Landfill capping project between the city and the soil/sediment management firm EndCap Technology.
Dumas wrote in an email to Patch that Weydt was committing an act of "political grandstanding." The councilor responded that he was not grandstanding, but rather properly representing his constituents.
The agreement signed by Dumas and EndCap President Kurt Schulte in July 2009 details the route trucks would take through Wards 3 and 4 in Attleboro on their way out of the landfill on Peckham Street after delivering "slightly contaminated material" to the site. In exchange, EndCap would pay the city 25 cents per ton of delivered material.
Approximately 35 trucks per day would make deliveries Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for three to four years. The trucks would access the landfill through a route mostly going through Norton (which EndCap proposes to compensate with the same fee it promises Attleboro) and touching on Taunton (which EndCap has not proposed to compensate, but the city is demanding $1 per ton). The plan has angered many Norton residents and was met with official criticism from the governments of Taunton and Norton this week in letters to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
Weydt, who was elected last year to his first term as the City Council's Ward 4 representative, wrote this week on Patch, "I am appalled that my neighbors and friends, particularly those living along the proposed truck route, have had no input or choice but to accept this [plan]." He wrote that Attleboro residents had been sold out by the proposal.
In his email to Patch, Dumas wrote that he was disappointed with Weydt's characterization of the plan because he had not made it when the councilor met with him privately last week.
"If Councilor Weydt now feels that my efforts to get this illegal landfill properly capped and monitored were somehow selling out the city, then perhaps he should come forward with a financial proposal that gets the landfill capped sooner and without taxpayer dollars," Dumas wrote. "Political grandstanding and doing nothing should not be the only options for the citizens of Ward 4."
Weydt is not backing down. After Patch showed him the email from Dumas, the councilor responded that he was not grandstanding, but rather that he was informing the residents about how their daily lives would be affected by an agreement he says they should have had input on before it was signed.
"That's not grandstanding, that's a part of representation," Weydt wrote in an email to Patch.
He continued, "My problem lies with the fact that we, as residents of Ward 4, were never involved in these decisions before they became an agreement. We demand to be given the facts about how this could happen and why it happened. I am very shocked and dumbfounded that I was never briefed on this agreement prior to or after taking office. It's certainly an issue that warrants some overview by a freshman councilor."
Meanwhile, the agreement could soon be tossed or at least modified. Dumas submitted a letter last week to EndCap attorney Richard Nylen stating the agreement was no longer valid because the Massachusetts DEP had not approved it and there was no agreement between the firm and the town of Norton. Nylen responded in a letter submitted Tuesday that he "disagrees strongly" with Dumas' legal conclusion, but he and his client are willing to meet with city officials "to discuss the most appropriate measures to close this landfill in an efficient and effective matter."
Nylen told Patch in an interview on Tuesday that modifying the agreement was a possibility.
"We want to work with the city so that we can close this illegal landfill in an appropriate amount of time," Nylen said.
The Massachusetts DEP issued an enforcement order for the landfill to be capped in the 1990s. A portion of the site has been capped, but this needs to happen to the remainder of the landfill. Attleboro Landfill owner Albert Dumont says he does not have the money to do this. EndCap is willing to cover the cost on the condition it be allowed to use 650,000 cubic yards of "slightly contaminated material" to reshape the landfill prior to the capping. The material would come from clients that hire EndCap to get rid of their waste.
Some people have suggested that the landfill could be reshaped without the use of contaminated material, or at least with a lesser amount than proposed. Also, local and state officials, including Dumas, say it should be determined whether the material could be delivered by train, rather than by truck, to lessen the impact on roads in the affected communities. EndCap said it would provide a detailed analysis of this option during the project comment period, which has been extended from a deadline of Sept. 4 to Sept. 28.
Attached to this article are copies of the 2009 agreement between the city of Attleboro and EndCap Technology, letters about the agreement from Mayor Kevin Dumas and EndCap attorney Richard Nylen, emails to Patch about the project from Dumas and City Councilor Jonathan Weydt and the town of Norton's comment letter on the project to the Massachusetts DEP.