Residents aid debris disposal

August 08, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writer

New Windsor and Union Bridge officials are taking a grass-roots approach to yard waste disposal.

Union Bridge has commissioned its town mower, RLS Contracting Co., to make weekly pickups of grass clippings and other yard debris, bagged by residents.

New Windsor residents can drop off their clippings twice a month on the town truck parked near the railroad tracks on Geer Lane. A town employee will take the collected yard waste to the compost pile at the county landfill for free.

"We were trying to find a way that is cost-effective because we didn't plan on incurring these costs," New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. said.

"We had it real good, but due to the state law and the county commissioners' abrupt halting of accepting the yard waste, we have had to find a way to meet the immediate need while planning for the future."

In accordance with state requirements, the landfill no long accepts yard waste for burial. Clippings, leaves and small pieces of brush and tree limbs are accepted for composting or chipping into mulch.

The county commissioners have made a few efforts to deal with municipal yard waste concerns. They are supporting a campaign to encourage Carroll residents to leave grass clippings on their lawns instead of taking them to the landfill.

The commissioners are also considering a change to the county zoning ordinance that would allow farmers to accept clippings and establish compost piles to make fertilizer, which they could sell.

But these northwest towns aren't waiting.

"The town bought the bags, and citizens pay $1 for each bag," said Kathleen D. Kreimer, Union Bridge's clerk-treasurer. "We then give the name and address of the person who bought the bag to the mower, and he goes around and collects what they put out."

The town considered a proposal from Eastern Waste Industries, which offered a flat fee of $900 per month for twice-monthly pickup from June 1 until Oct. 31, with the town to buy fluorescent "yard waste only" stickers from EWI for 50 cents.

EWI suggested the town could sell the stickers to residents for a dollar and make a profit.

The company later reduced the monthly fee to $375, but the town figured it could do better.

"It would have been a flat fee no matter how many bags they [EWI] picked up, and last week [the mower] only picked up two bags," Mrs. Kreimer said. "We pay RLS for each bag they pick up, so this works better."

The service began Aug. 1 and will continue every Monday until fall. As of Tuesday night, only 10 bags had been sold, but Mrs. Kreimer said she is sure more residents will join.

"They were so used to cutting the grass and leaving them on the ground," Mrs. Kreimer said. "But now they will start to bag it again."

Union Bridge residents can purchase the transparent bags at the hardware store, the pharmacy and the town office building.

New Windsor's pilot yard waste collection program begins today and will run through the fall leaf pickup period.

Residents can empty bags of yard waste only into the town truck, which will be parked at the drop-off site every second and fourth Monday from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.

The program was under fire even before it was officially presented Wednesday at the Town Council meeting.

Mayor Gullo said he received phone calls from residents who said they preferred that the yard waste be collected in front of their homes.

At the council meeting, resident Tudor Fritz said it would not take much more for the town employee to drive around and collect the bags.

Town officials disagreed.

"It's harder to pick up bags in front of every home because every bag has to be checked [for items other than yard waste]," Mayor Gullo said. "If I had people just go around and collect bags that people set out, it would hard to know if any of the bags were contaminated."

Mr. Gullo said he understood Mr. Fritz's concern about elderly people who might be unable to haul their debris to the town truck.

In response, the mayor said he talked with Paula Eckenrode, an advocate for the town's children, about a project youngsters could do.

"If several local kids sent around fliers saying they would pick up the yard waste and bring it to the town truck for a nominal fee, then those people who say they do not have a way to get it down there would be set," Mr. Gullo suggested.

The children might transport the yard waste in wagons, the mayor said.

"People would be getting rid of their yard waste, the kids would have something to do, make a little money and get a little self-esteem because they would be needed."

Ms. Eckenrode said she is interested in Mr. Gullo's plan.

"We have provided an outlet. The county's education program is telling them not to make yard waste, but I'm sure they are," Mr. Gullo said. "All I know is that what we have now is a 100 percent improvement over what we had last month."

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