Meeting Tuesday evening

Belfast City Council to discuss brownfields, browntail moth remediation, transfer station rate increases

Mon, 05/01/2023 - 7:30pm

    BELFAST — The Belfast City Council will hold its regularly scheduled public meeting Tuesday evening, May 2, at 7 p.m., to address topics that include a lobster feast at the park, browntail moth remediation, airport runway maintenance and transfer station rate increases.

    The first agenda item is a request for the Council to approve a new application by the VFW Auxiliary Post 3108 to use Belfast City Park for a Lobster Feast and Silent Auction. The event is to take place July 8, from 11 a.m. through 3 p.m. If approved, set-up for the event would begin July 7, with clean-up to take place July 9, the day after the event.

    The Council will hear an update on the 2023 browntail moth remediation on city-owned property.

    According to Belfast City Manager Erin Herbig’s report, the City of Belfast invested in browntail moth remediation in 2021. That consisted of spraying and injecting trees on city-owned property used by residents and visitors. Those areas have been identified and include the Harbor Walk, Harbor, Rail Trail and city parks. The process continued in 2022.

    The treatment has reportedly been effective in reducing the browntail moth population. Despite the reduction, however, the city is still considered a “hot zone” by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. 

    Parks and Recreation Director Norm Poirier recommended the city again enter into a contract with Hawkes Tree Service for spraying and injecting.

    Poirier is also requesting to enter into another contract with Didier Bonner-Ganter for clipping services for this year’s browntail moth remediation on city-owned property. The cost would be $14,000, which would come from the City’s Tree Maintenance Account. That has a current balance of $17,650. 

    Transfer Station price increases

    The Council will consider rate increases for the Belfast Transfer Station at Tuesday’s meeting.

    City Manager Herbig wrote in her pre-meeting report to the Council: “It is never an easy decision to increase rates, particularly in today’s economy knowing that it could place increased hardship on our citizens. However, Transfer Station Manager Lottie Rolfe has been keeping a close eye on disposal rates for the last several months and compared them to the City’s current rates. She has concluded that now is the time to consider price increases on the rates at the Transfer Station to ensure we are able to maintain our services to the public.”

    Herbig’s report said the proposed increases are not about making a profit, but rather to maintain the Transfer Station in a “rapidly changing market.” It has been three years since the last increase of Belfast Transfer Station rates. The report includes the driving factors behind the increases, which can be viewed in Herbig’s full report

    Transfer Station Manager Rolfe suggested the following increases:

    • Increase charging .085 per pound or $170 per ton for demolition debris to .10 per pound or $200 per ton.
    • Increase pay-as-you-throw 30-gallon garbage size bags from $3.50 each to $4 per bag, while 50-gallon size bags would increase from $5.50 to $6.00. 
    • Increase the under 16.5 inch tire fee from $3 to $4 each; the over 16.5 inch tire fee from $5 to $6; and commercial tire fees from $15 to $22 each. 


    Fees for brush, refrigerators, electronics, and white goods will remain the same. Recyclables, scrap metal, iron, motor oil, bulbs, and lamps will continue to remain free, according to Herbig’s report.

    For additional details view Herbig’s full report. 

    Also on the agenda, the Belfast Airport Manager requested authorization to submit a grant application to the Federal Aviation Administration Improvement Program funding assistance. The funding assistance would assist the airport in maintaining their pavement infrastructure and help improve pavement conditions statewide. 

    In 2018, the average inspected Pavement Condition Index for all airfields at the Belfast Municipal Airport was 74.

    Runway 15-22 had an average inspected PCI of 75, which was above the minimum service level of 70. Taxiways had an average inspected PCI of 84, taxi lanes had an average inspected PCI of 100, and aprons had an average inspected PCI of 65, according to the request.

    The Belfast runway was projected to deteriorate by 1.9 points each year due to climate distress. This means that this year the PCI is 65.5, which is below the state’s minimum threshold of 70.

    The city recently solicited bids for this work, and despite interest, no formal bid was submitted. City staff members reportedly discussed the situation with the FAA and they have recommended submitting a grant application for the maximum amount available and using the FAA’s small purchase procedures, continue working to secure bids for the project. 

    The grant application in question must be submitted to the FAA by May 5. 

    The current estimated cost for the cracked sealing project is $222,000 and is proposed to be funded from the City’s Entitlement Grant Funds. 

    Additional details of the proposed funding can be found in the Herbig’s full report

    Belfast’s Economic Director Thomas Kittredge is requesting the Council send staff to an upcoming National Brownfields Training Conference. The conferences are held periodically at locations throughout the U.S., with this year’s event to take place in Detroit, Michigan from Aug. 8-11. 

    The conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning and reusing former commercial and industrial properties identified as brownfields. The conference will include several days of educational sessions and workshops, with topics including brownfield financing, housing equity, minimizing displacement, climate change, resiliency, future economic trends, environmental justice, public participation, assessment, cleanup approaches, and forging effective relationships with tribal governments, according to Herbig’s report.

    The estimated cost to attend the conference is $2,600 per person, with 100 percent of total expenses reimbursable from the City’s current USEPA Brownfields Assessment Grant. This means there is no net cost to the City of Belfast to send staff to the conference. 

    Possible plans for the City’s 250th anniversary will also be revisited during Tuesday’s meeting after the Council unanimously agreed at the April 18 regularly scheduled meeting, to continue the conversation at tomorrow’s gathering. 

    Erica Thoms can be reached at