Maybe a waste transfer station is warranted in the Joppa area where Harford County government is proposing one, or maybe such an operation should be left to someone else to devise.
Envisioned for the old Coleman Plecker's World of Golf site on Route 7 near the Route 152 intersection, a waste transfer station could well turn out to be an eyesore at such a spot. The roads in the area are well traveled and the property in question, which the county purchased for $2.9 million, is hardly secluded.
Were the facility to evolve into a garbage dump annex, it would be an affront to the people who live in the area and make regular use of one of Harford County's five I-95 interchanges.
There's also a question of how the public benefits from such a public ally-funded project. Unlike neighboring counties that provide garbage pickup for the bulk of the citizenry, Harford County's waste removal is largely handled by private haulers who contract individually with homeowners and businesses. So if a waste transfer station is built and run by the county, the beneficiaries largely are the private haulers who don't have to drive as far to unload what they've collected, be it trash separated for recycling or flat out garbage.
Theoretically this helps reduce prices for the haulers, but there's no guarantee any savings would be passed on to the customers.
Waste management policy is certainly one of the more contentious issues local governments have to deal with. Everyone wants to be able to have curbside garbage collection and no one wants that garbage dumped haphazardly into the environment. And the relative success of recycling programs in Harford County stands as testament to the popularity of waste recycling programs.
As it stands, the proposal for the Joppa facility is for a recycling transfer station, though once a waste management facility is in place, there's no guarantee it will always be what it was when it first opened. In any event, recycling trash can be every bit the eyesore that ordinary garbage is.
If the county government is to move ahead with the trash facility near the intersection of Routes 7 and 152 in Joppa, it needs to ensure that any such operation is barely noticeable to the public at large. This is a tall order. After all, it would sit at one of the community's main gateways. And a constant stream of garbage trucks is hardly incognito.
Possibly some other public use could be found for the former golf property, perhaps something in the parks and recreation realm. And if it turns out a waste transfer station to serve the private waste haulers in the county is a public policy necessity, a more secluded location should be found.