'Hey, Why Not Put It at the Landfill?'


If all the capital projects proposed for Carroll County's Northern Landfill were actually built, there could be a serious crowding problem. After all, just about every NIMBY ("Not In My Back Yard") project proposed in Carroll seems destined for the popular dump.

Aside from being one of the two county landfills, the northern site, which is just east of Westminster on Route 140, has been eyed by the three Carroll commissioners and others as a future home for a new detention center, a waste-to-energy plant, a recycling center and a large-scale yard waste composting plant. A recent proposal also suggested building an animal-carcass composting facility there, too.

Since all these worthwhile projects have been proposed for the same place, why not save a little money with an integrated solution: Carroll County officials should build the first high-rise, multi-functional building in the country that incarcerates inmates, composts garbage and dead animals, and generates energy to boot.

As we visualize the project, the ground floor would be devoted to composting yard waste, dead animals and other biodegradeable material. On the second floor, the county could build a waste-to-energy plant that incinerates all the garbage that can't be composted. The third floor could house a recycling center. A system of chutes, pipes and conveyor belts could connect all levels of this waste disposal complex.

The top floor of our Tower of Rabble (and rubbish) could house the jail. By placing the prisoners on the top level, they would have considerable trouble escaping. To further discourage that possibility, a moat could be dug around the edifice. Instead of water, it could be filled with composting animals. No escapee in his or her right mind would risk falling into that! To enhance cost-efficiencies, the roof could serve as a helipad for transporting prisoners to court hearings.

We realize that this fanciful solution has about as much chance of being built as. . . well, as all the projects now slated for the landfill. While exiling these unpopular public edifices to a municipal version of Napolean's Elba island might make the politicians' lives easier, there is no realistic way to cram all these proposals onto that site.

If the commissioners are serious about forging ahead with a new jail and composting and waste-to-energy facilities, they would be well served to explore some alternative locations.

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