Officials: Proposed ‘Swap Shop’ for transfer station pending salt storage plans

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Long-running plans to install a volunteer-run “swap store” at the transfer station are on hold pending a separate capital project at the site for a road salt storage family, officials say. .

The old transfer station incinerator building. Credit: Michaël Dinan

The fiscal year 2023 budget currently under discussion includes $50,000 for a site survey and construction of a planned “salt dome” at the transfer station, officials said at the February 17 meeting of the New Canaan Conservation Commission.

Valued at $500,000 last year, construction costs may well have risen since then, Commission Chairman Chris Schipper said during the group’s meeting, held at City Hall and via video conference.

Efforts to set up an exchange store based on Darien’s successful model are “getting more and more difficult,” Schipper said.

“Until they get the salt cellar, we’re not going to get anything,” he said.

Planet New Canaan president Robin Bates Mason, a guest at the meeting, said the Department of Public Works had said “space is an issue” at the transfer station.

“Once the fiscal season is over, [we can] try to get back on that,” Bates Mason said of the swap shop’s efforts.

Early plans for an exchange store call for covered and outdoor areas where transfer station permit holders could leave or pick up certain items – books, toys, stuffed animals, electronics, printed matter, sports equipment, vases and bicycle racks, chairs, and other small furniture—free of charge.

Public works officials have said in the past that the area immediately to the right for visitors to the landfill would be a good location, although the wider development of the transfer station itself – with a new house at the scale, plans for the salt dome and open questions regarding an animal sanctuary – is currently under consideration.

According to Bates-Mason, one concept for the salt dome itself is to install it near Down River Road to help block transfer station noise – such as large vehicles backing up – from residents of the region.

Schipper said the city should also work on a strategy to reduce its use of road salt, which could seep into the water supply. Commissioner Linda Andros said road salt can destroy roadside weeds and pollinating plants in undesirable ways.

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