Compost company hopes to open Cape Ann site by fall

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff file photoA worker readies a truck full of compost at the Black Earth Compost facility in Manchester. Black Earth Compost is working with the town to build a regional facility off Pine Street.

MANCHESTER — After multiple delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Earth Compost is still hoping to open its new Cape Ann regional compost site at the Manchester Transfer Station by this fall.

“We want to be building this summer and hopefully open by the fall,” said Andrew Brousseau, partner and compost manager at Black Earth Compost, “but it’s up to the town to work with us on certain design parameters.”

Currently, Black Earth is finishing final designs for the site.

“We’re in negotiations with the town on what the final designs of what the building should be,” Brousseau. said “It’s a small advanced facility designed to break down all the food in an enclosed area. It’s all ready to go, we just need the town to sign off on it.”

The town had earmarked a $400,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection for the specific purpose of building a compost site. In addition, officials had spent $75,000 to engineer the Pine Street plot behind the transfer station, 2001 Pipeline Road (upper Pine Street). Fall Town Meeting in 2019 voted in favor of the compost site and spending $300,000 for construction. Black Earth chipped in another $300,000 once it was officially contracted to the project.

“Now it’s up to $800,000,” said Brousseau. “That’s one of the thing we’re looking to negotiate with the town, how to keep costs low.”

Just a few months after the project got the green light from residents, COVID-19 struck.

“It really slowed things down because the Board of Selectmen got really involved in managing COVID, as they should,” said Brousseau. “Other projects had to go to the sideline, but the Board of Selectmen have affirmed twice that they’re on board.”

Manchester is one of the communities Black Earth services with its curbside compost pick-up program. Anyone within the Cape Ann area will be able to get rid of organic material in an environmentally friendly and cost effective way at the new site.

“Homegrown (waste deposit) solves an enormous problem in Manchester,” Brousseau explained. “Recycling prices are through roof. Manchester’s tipping fee went from $60 per ton to $90 just in the last year.”

Black Earth previously opened a compost site in Groton. Last year, the company converted the old baseball diamond at Mack Park in Salem into a compost drop-off site.

“We’re looking to open up more, too,” Brosseau continued. “This site’s going to be the pride of Manchester. Other towns are going to look at it as a model.”

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

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