Blue Skies Over Gilford, NH for Monthly MOM Meeting and Tour

October 19, 2020

Blue skies and a brand new recycling facility attracted NRRA members from near and far to attend the October 14th outdoor meeting. We were all eager to hear about what sparked Gilford to build this $1.4 million recycling center complete with horizontal baler and floor scale and what advice they have for others now that it is open.

It started in 2015 with one selectman, and the first warrant article was proposed in 2016. The second warrant article provided additional funds in 2017. At first, residents had concerns about the facility, but now they are thrilled to bring both their MSW and recyclables to Gilford, instead of going to Laconia. The town switched back from single stream recycling to source separated, which took time to educate residents. But when Public Works proved that they lowered operating costs from $77,000 to $50,000 residents were supportive. Gilford already owned the land  and had space for windrows of composted yard waste which they give away to residents. They also have their own glass pile that they are looking to get crushed.

Meghan Theriault took the position of Public Works Director in November, 2019 and they opened the new facility in January, 2020. She knew that education would need to be a major effort, including: colorful sandwich boards to highlight weekly contamination issues; posting Recycle Right social media to the public; holding public information sessions and getting on the local TV station. 

Meghan and Solid Waste Supervisor, Bruce Hewitt, reviewed some of the challenges since opening. They showed the need for increased staffing and went from 2 staff to 4 fulltime staff and 1 fulltime seasonal staff; they were surprised to find that storage was a problem even with a new building, since the best market price for material is to store up a full load of each commodity; they would like a 35' truck scale to calculate C+D disposal fees; they would like to work on commercial usage and permit fees. They also deal with a population that triples in the summer months for tourists.

Members left the meeting with some questions answered, and some food for thought in their own towns. Thanks, Gilford!