Officials: ‘Swap Shop’ Proposed for Transfer Station Waiting on Salt Storage Plans


Inside the Darien Swap Shop. Photo courtesy of Robin Bates-Mason

Longstanding plans to install a volunteer-run “swap shop” at the Transfer Station are on hold pending a separate capital project at the site for a storage family for road salt, officials say.

The former incinerator building at the Transfer Station. Credit: Michael Dinan

The fiscal year 2023 budget now under discussion includes $50,000 for a site and construction study of a planned “salt dome” at the Transfer Station, officials said during the Feb. 17 meeting of the New Canaan Conservation Commission.

Pegged at $500,000 last year, the construction costs may well have increased since that time, Commission Chair Chris Schipper said during the group’s meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. 

Effortrs to put in a swap shop based on Darien’s successful model are “getting harder,” Schipper said.

“Until they get the salt cellar, we’re not going to get anything,” he said.

Planet New Canaan President Robin Bates Mason, a guest at the meeting, said the word from Department of Public Works is that “space is an issue” at the Transfer Station. 

“Once the budget season is over, [we can] try to get back on that,” Bates Mason said of the swap shop efforts. 

Early plans for a swap shop call for covered and outdoor areas where permit-holders for the Transfer Station could leave or pick up select items— books, toys, stuffed animals, electronics, prints, sports equipment, vases and dishes to bicycles, chairs and other small furniture—for free.

Public Works officials have said in the past that the area immediately to the right for visitors to the dump would be a good location for it, though the wider layout of the Transfer Station itself—with a new scale house, plans for the salt dome and open questions regarding an animal shelter—is now under consideration.

According to Bates-Mason, one concept for the salt dome itself is to install it near Down River Road in order to help block the Transfer Station’s noise—such as large vehicles backing up—from residents of the area. 

Schipper said the town also should be working toward a strategy to decrease its use of road salt, which may leech into the water supply. Commissioner Linda Andros said that road salt can destroy roadside weeds and pollinating plants in unwanted ways. 

5 thoughts on “Officials: ‘Swap Shop’ Proposed for Transfer Station Waiting on Salt Storage Plans

  1. Swap Shop in Darien was always being used. People lined up to drop off and take away when I lived there.
    Too much salt is ruining the rivers, our water supply, the pollinator pathway, and our gardens.

  2. Our well water has more salt than desirable. Our well is 75 feet from Marvin Ridge Road. Let’s go back to sand.

  3. Darien’s Swap Shop was the brilliant idea of one Darien environmentalist, Dot Kelly. She did the grassroots work to get it started, originally as a popup tent. It didn’t take much money, just dedication to doing the right thing for our environment. Do we have residents in our town living in more of a bubble than in Darien? That New Canaan is so hung up on getting this started is an embarrassment and clear signal that our global environment is on the back burner of the town’s concerns. It should have been done ten plus years ago. The concept is brilliant. I still have items in my house that I rescued from landfill. Why can’t the transfer station provide temporary space until they can provide a permanent location.

  4. I’ve gotten so many great things at the Shelter Island swap shop during the last 15 years—I can’t even begin to start. One person’s Pyrex and vintage magazines are another’s treasure (mine!).

  5. Hi Mike:
    Glad to see my random suggestion from August 2017 meeting, has finally taken root.
    as stated…”Do you ever cover the mundane, as ….why don’t we have a
    swap shop at the dump? (Darien does, Mansfield /Storrs area does).
    It seems like a miss in the repurposing area. Surely someone
    could have used the four patio chairs, the planter, etc. (pic below)”
    Hooray! Bravo for making this happen, New Canaan!

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