Md. officials tell Mount Airy to move compost pile

September 16, 1994|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

Mount Airy residents must find another place to dispose of their yard waste.

State natural resources officials say that the compost pile in Prospect Park has to go, if the town wants state money to build more recreation facilities at the park.

Deidra Ritchie, an assistant regional administrator with the state's open space program, notified Mount Airy last week that the compost pile must be removed for the town to receive $56,000. Plans call for the construction of street hockey, volleyball and basketball courts; paving of walkways and an access road; and additions to playground equipment.

During a final inspection of Prospect Park, Ms. Ritchie determined that the compost pile in the park violates state open space regulations.

Because most of the land in the park was acquired with state open space money, she said, the park may be used only for recreation.

Ms. Ritchie ruled out accepting more applications from Mount Airy for state open space money until the compost pile is gone.

"Project Open Space is not against recycling efforts, but it's a conversion" of the land away from recreational use, she said.

Money from the state's open space program was used to acquire about 7 of the park's 12 acres, Ms. Ritchie said.

The order to remove the compost pile has Mount Airy officials looking for another location where residents can take their yard waste.

"Our residents have become so accustomed to it, and it's been a real valuable asset to the community," Mayor Gerald Johnson said.

Mount Airy's recycling committee started the compost pile three years ago to reduce the amount of yard waste going into the community's landfill.

Carroll and Frederick counties agreed to provide equipment to grind the compost into mulch every month. The mulch was made available to Mount Airy residents at no cost.

But much of the time, things didn't go according to plan.

Mount Airy Councilman Billy Wagner, who chairs the town's sanitation committee, said Carroll and Frederick's mulching equipment frequently broke down. As a result, the compost pile sometimes became quite large.

Also, some people used the compost pile as a dumping ground for old furniture, trash bags, large tree stumps and other refuse.

Last year, the town restricted the times the compost pile was open and hired a gatekeeper to ensure that only yard waste was deposited.

Mr. Wagner wasn't planning to move the compost pile, but he said it's probably a good time to look for another site.

"I think we kind of outgrew it with the small area there," Mr. Wagner said. "We depended on two counties to provide us with grinding equipment, but that hasn't always been available."

Mr. Wagner said the sanitation committee soon will look for a new composting site.

"We won't put it in the trash stream and fill the landfill up unnecessarily, so we'll have to work something out," Mr. Wagner said.

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