Bids for 981 Park Hill Road Due on May 14; Air Quality Still an Issue?

981 Park Hill Road, a home that has become well-known for its proximity to the Northampton landfill, is back on the market after an offering last fall failed to draw bids. The minimum bid in this new round is set at $375,000. Bids are due by 2pm on May 14.

This picture taken at the Northampton Assessors Office shows the price the city paid to the previous owners, Linda Hiesiger and Ellen Tobiassen, as part of a 2009 settlement (PDF) of a lawsuit over odors, noise and other impacts from the landfill.

One question is whether air quality is still an issue at the property. Below is an excerpt from a July 9, 2009 “Review of Proposals for Air Monitoring and Risk Assessment at the Northampton Sanitary Landfill” (PDF) prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Landfill opponent Dr. Jo-Anne Bessette says that “Property A” is 981 Park Hill Road.

Between August and November 2007, three grab air samples were collected from two residential properties (Residential Property A and B) in the vicinity of the landfill and one grab air sample was collected from the Northampton City Hall property, located approximately 4 miles east-northeast of the landfill property, as a background sample. Maximum concentrations of benzene and methylene chloride detected in residential samples exceeded their respective AALs [Allowable Ambient Limits] and the maximum concentration of benzene exceeded its U.S. Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) cancer risk evaluation guide (CREG) of 0.03 ppb (Tech Environmental 2007b, c, and d). Table 2 summarizes the maximum detected concentrations of VOCs that exceeded AALs.

Between October 24 and November 9, 2007, at the request of the resident, MassDEP placed a hydrogen sulfide air monitoring instrument at Residential Property A. Hydrogen sulfide readings were recorded every 15 minutes, 24 hours per day for about 2 weeks, from October 24th through November 9th. The average concentration during the first week was 2 ppb and the maximum was 8 ppb. The average concentration during the second week was 4 ppb and the maximum was 8 ppb. The average and maximum concentrations for both weeks exceeded the MassDEP AAL of 0.65 ppb as well as the EPA Chronic Reference Concentration (RfC) of 1 ppb (MassDEP 2007b).

From April 2008 to January 2009, there were approximately 400 calls made to the landfill’s Odor Complaint/Response Hotline (Northampton DPW 2009).

See also:

Gazette: “Northampton to renew efforts to sell Park Hill Road home” (4/7/10)

Gazette: “Lack of bids leaves home near Northampton landfill in city’s hands” (11/19/09)
The city had set a minimum asking price of $478,800 for the two-story house, which features four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a fireplace and cathedral ceilings. The former owners bought the home in 2006 for $486,250…

The minimum asking price for 981 Park Hill Road is the assessed value of the property. Public works officials said they are trying to recoup as much money as they can to replenish the DPW’s solid-waste enterprise fund. The City Council in May approved borrowing $1.2 million to buy the two homes near the landfill. Money to pay for the properties is being drawn from the solid-waste enterprise fund.

“The goal is to sell the property,” Huntley said. “The solid-waste enterprise fund did not anticipate buying these houses. They need to sell.”

Toxics Action Center Issues Press Release in Conjunction with Water Not Waste (3/25/10)

Northampton Media: “Council passes solid waste resolution, 5-3-1 (3/18/10)
With five yeses, three abstentions, and a single no vote, City Council passed a resolution on Thursday that “advises the Board of Public Works to terminate further action on the landfill expansion in order to begin planning for both the scheduled closure of the existing Glendale Road facility and for how Northampton will manage its solid waste when our landfill closes.”

Rebuttal to Dr. Geoffrey Kuter’s Brief for Landfill Expansion (1/26/10)