Johnston settlement pays for new athletic complex

The mayor of Johnston said he had reached a tentative settlement with operators of the Central Landfill over odors that have wafted from the facility, but he vowed to take further action if the stench returns.

Mayor Joseph Polisena said Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp. has agreed to pay the town $3 million to settle a lawsuit filed in 2011 and compensate residents for their suffering. The money will be used to build a new high school athletic complex, including an artificial turf football field, a new track, bleachers and a concession stand.

"Our facility was the firstof its kind back in the 1970s, and I don't think we've done any work on itsince then. Therefore, the need is obviously there. And this new complex, withthe artificial turf, is going to be amazing," said Dan Mazzulla, director of Parks and Recreation.

Polisena said Friday that the Town Council unanimously approved the settlement and that it will be presented to the judge soon. He said the town would get $1.5 million up front, and the rest spread out over 14 years.

Polisena said Resource Recovery has spent about $5 million to mitigate the smell and called the settlement fair. But he stressed that if there are additional problems, the town will take action.

"We have not given away our rights with this settlement," he said.

Michael O'Connell, executive director of the RIRRC, told NBC 10 News the settlement won't come from taxpayer money.

"Rhode Island Resource Recovery is a quasi-state agency. We don't get any money from the state. We're not a department of the state. All of our funding comes from the fees we charge to our customers for delivering trash to the landfill, and those are called tipping fees," O'Connell said.

Polisena said he will continue to be "aggressive" about a resolution to remaining problems it attributes to Broadrock Renewables, an energy company that uses gas from the landfill to generate electricity.

Town officials recently ordered Broadrock to shut down a plant that opened several months ago after residents complained about the smells and a building inspector found pipes in disrepair. In a separate incident, an explosion at a Broadrock plant started a small fire last month.