Officials frustrated by holdup of state funds for landfill

By Chris Maza

LONGMEADOW – Elected officials continue to be frustrated by the lack of movement regarding $3 million in state funding earmarked for the closing of the Tina Lane landfill.

State Rep. Brian Ashe and state Sen. Eric Lesser helped secure the funding as part of the commonwealth’s budget, but the money has not yet been released to the town.

“We had it secured, but unfortunately when you get money secured, it doesn’t mean you get it right away. I’ve learned that the hard way over the years,” Ashe said. “Even though you get money in a budget and get money secured for a project like that, there are still a lot of hoops you have to jump through and it’s not always guaranteed you’ll get it in the end.”

In the meantime, Longmeadow residents approved an $800,000 bond authorization at the Annual Town Meeting on May 14 to begin Phase I of the process to properly cap a section of the landfill to which asbestos-containing material found at the site of the new Department of Public Works facility was transported and disposed of. Residents approved an additional $125,700 to supplement those costs. A second phase involving the complete proper closure of the remaining portion of the landfill is expected to be costlier.

Ashe and Lesser said they had not received any word as to when the funds would be released or why they had not yet been made available.

“It’s in the governor’s hands,” Lesser said of the expected state funding. “It’s a capital authorization, so only the governor’s office, the governor’s administration can issue bonds for capital projects. The capital has been authorized by the legislature, so we’re going to continue to push the administration to put this as high up on the list as possible and we’re certainly going to keep at it.”

Ashe added, “The governor has the authority to hold up the money – sometimes for good reasons, sometimes we’re not sure what the reasons are. This is one of those where they’re holding the money up and they haven’t said we’re not going to get it, they just haven’t said when we’re going to get it.”

He later added, “Maybe the senator [Lesser] knows something, but I haven’t had a great explanation as to why we haven’t gotten it yet.”

Lesser indicated he had not received an update, but said, “It’s on our radar and I know Rep. Ashe and I are committed to doing everything we can to get state support to make the project possible.”