SALEM — The city is soliciting redevelopment proposals for the transfer station site at 12 Swampscott Road, testing the waters to see if there is anyone who might want to turn the property into something other than a trash facility.
The effort comes as neighboring residents and some members of the City Council fight a proposal from Northside Carting — which has leased the site and operated a trash facility there since 2002 — to increase the amount of tonnage processed there.
"I'm all ears if there's another way of looking at this," said Mayor Kim Driscoll. "I hope something comes through. Then we'll have options."
"If there's an interest we need to know," she said. "If not, this (offer from Northside) is the best proposal we have."
The city-owned property has been a trash facility since the 1960s. No matter what its future, the city faces pressure from the Department of Environmental Protection, which determined the site was not properly capped and needs more than $1 million in cleanup work.
Last week, Driscoll called the site a "nightmare" and an albatross around the city's neck.
A request for proposals issued last month asks for interest to develop the site — either leasing or purchasing it from the city. Proposals are due Dec. 2.
"The only way to find out if there is a viable commercial developer is to put it out there," Driscoll said. "Ultimately, this site has to be cleaned up. The question is whether we have to pay for it, or someone else."
It's a process the city has gone through before, when it marketed the transfer station property and solicited redevelopment proposals in 2007.
In the end, only two proposals came in, both for transfer stations, Driscoll said.
Driscoll said she had hoped for some type of commercial redevelopment proposal — not unthinkable because there are retail businesses in the neighborhood.