Videos: City Council Approves Drinking Water Protection Ordinance 6-3

Northampton’s City Council approved the Drinking Water Protection Ordinance last night at its first reading. The ordinance forbids landfills from being established or expanded over aquifers or in Water Supply Protection districts. It would have the effect of preventing expansion of the Northampton municipal landfill over the Barnes Aquifer. The council is expected to take a second and final reading of the ordinance at its August 19 meeting.

The vote was 6-3 in favor. Councilors in favor included:

  • Jesse Adams, At-Large
  • David Narkewicz, At-Large
  • Angela Plassmann, Ward 3
  • Pamela Schwartz, Ward 4
  • Marianne LaBarge, Ward 6
  • Gene Tacy, Ward 7

Councilors opposed included:

  • Maureen Carney, Ward 1
  • Paul Spector, Ward 2
  • David Murphy, Ward 5

Below is a video of the councilors discussing the ordinance. It is 1 hour 6 minutes long. You may also view a video of the public comment period at the start of the council meeting (31 minutes long). Citizens made comments both for and against the ordinance. Both videos were recorded by Adam Cohen.


Ward 6 Councilor Marianne LaBarge: “As a city councilor in Ward 6, it’s been very difficult for me. I can’t tell you how difficult. For two years having a gag order, and then tonight, I hear, which I’m appalled…that, ‘there’s not an odor problem’. I went into a home. I received a call from Marlene Pearson, a young girl in her early 30s and her two small children. She said, ‘Councilor, you need to come here. We are very, very ill.’ …They abut the landfill… [The childrens’] faces were bright red and crying, and the mother was ill also.”

Ward 2 Councilor Paul Spector: “I just wanted to change one word in the ballot question because I think people needed to hear this, because it’s important now that they hear it, which is, we already made a mistake and built [a landfill] over the aquifer… so the question should have been, ‘Should we continue to expand the landfill over the Barnes Aquifer?’ One thing I know from polling is that polling on issues is the most difficult thing there is… How a question is written will often determine how people will then answer it… The way the public voted on this does not move me.”

See also:

Videos: July 1 City Council Public Hearing – Drinking Water Protection Ordinance

Water Not Waste Presentation at the July 1 City Council Public Hearing (PDF)

Department of Public Works: Landfill Studies and Presentations  

Barnes Aquifer Protection Advisory Committee: Letter of 6/28/10 in support of Drinking Water Protection Ordinance (PDF, 1MB)

Department of Public Works Responds to BAPAC Letter (PDF, 10MB)

Gazette: “Council hears landfill arguments” (7/1/10)
Approximately 100 people attended the public hearing Thursday, most of whom urged the council to adopt the ordinance change that they said makes common sense. It also would fall in line with nearly two-thirds of those who went to the polls last fall and said the city should not expand the landfill over the Barnes Aquifer. 

Greenfield, MA: Solar Farm Project – Contract Signed (6/25/10)
After a competitive procurement process, the Town selected Axio Green, LLC to design, develop, construct and operate of a 2.0 MW solar installation on the Town’s capped landfill off Wisdom Way. Construction of solar installations on landfills is considered to be an ideal use of such property…

The farm will annually generate approximately 2,400,000 kwh of power. This represents 45% of the electricity used by all town owned buildings, including the schools, and the Town anticipates it will save approximately $250,000 in electrical costs during the first full year of operation.

Video: Mimi Odgers Comments on Water Not Waste Ballot Question Victory (11/4/09)
Today’s Gazette reports:

Shall the city expand the regional landfill over the Barnes Aquifer? No, said 63.8 percent of Northampton voters who chose to answer the nonbinding question at the polls Tuesday.

In the final analysis, 5,482 voters said the city should not expand the landfill over the aquifer, while 3,107 voters supported an expansion over a recharge zone of a public drinking water supply area.

The no vote carried in every precinct in every ward and was only slightly higher in Ward 6, where the regional landfill off Glendale Road is located.