School Board asked to take stance on landfill

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

Members of Vermont Organized Communities Against Landfills took their fight to the Williston School Board last week, presenting information they hope will convince board members to oppose the landfill planned on Redmond Road.

With 2-year-old daughter Karina in his arms and 5-year-old Kayleigh sitting nearby, Scott Bushweller gave the five board members a packet with a map of the landfill and studies and news articles about the dangers of landfills. During the public comment period of the meeting, he told the board he wanted to offer them and the public information Chittenden Solid Waste District would not likely provide.

The waste district is considering a landfill on 66 acres on Redmond Road. The site is more than a mile from Allen Brook School.

Diane Frank spoke after Bushweller, asking the board to spread information about the landfill to the public.

“The reason I went to them (the School Board members), is because their primary role is to educate students. At a higher level, it’s being concerned about children’s health. (A landfill) affects quality of life and the ability to learn,” Bushweller later told The Observer.

Unaware of the landfill plan when he moved to Williston two years ago, Bushweller has since done his own research and said he has used his father, a former chairman of the University of Vermont chemistry department, and brother, a biochemist at the University of Virginia, as resources.

“We’re trying to stop this from happening, and the more public figures that come out and are against it the more pressure on the Chittenden Solid Waste District, that this is bad idea,” Bushweller said.

Frank, who, like Bushweller, was unaware of the landfill proposal when she moved to Williston more than four years ago, said the landfill debate encompasses issues of quality of life, home values, the environment and economics. But she said none is more important than health and safety.

Darlene Worth, chairwoman of the School Board, had not decided earlier this week whether the board would take a stance for or against the landfill.

“Apparently some research indicates that it might be a safety issue. We haven’t had a chance to talk about it, or go in deeper or even read (Bushweller’s packet). But we plan to, and hopefully talk about it more at the next meeting,” Worth said, adding the board could act by writing letters to newspapers, either as a group or as individuals.

Waste district General Manager Tom Moreau, upon hearing about the presentation at the School Board meeting, said he wanted to schedule a similar opportunity to talk to board members.

“I need to get a copy of what they (Bushweller) gave, see if they’re salient facts, see if anything is exaggerated and try to get an understanding from the School Board if they’re going to take action,” Moreau said. “If they’re being reasonable, they’ll want to hear both sides of the story.”

Moreau said the decision whether or not to permit and build the landfill would go beyond just the neighborhoods near the site.

“Nothing will be built that does not pass either EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) muster or State of Vermont muster,” Moreau said, adding that the ultimate decision for or against the landfill would consider science, engineering and economics.