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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow COUNCIL HEARS CURBSIDE OPTIONS

COUNCIL HEARS CURBSIDE OPTIONS

RECYCLING: The City of La Grande is currently operating under a DEQ-approved plan of recycling where residents take their newspapers, cans, glass, plastics, cardboard and mixed paper to the recycling center on Willow Street. Leaving recyclables at the Willow site Monday are Richard Croft and Kathleen Windler. Croft said he only throws away one or two bags of trash a week. If its recyclable, we bring it here. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
RECYCLING: The City of La Grande is currently operating under a DEQ-approved plan of recycling where residents take their newspapers, cans, glass, plastics, cardboard and mixed paper to the recycling center on Willow Street. Leaving recyclables at the Willow site Monday are Richard Croft and Kathleen Windler. Croft said he only throws away one or two bags of trash a week. If its recyclable, we bring it here. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Under the gun from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the City of La Grande should bite the bullet and develop a plan for curbside recycling, one councilor said during a work session Monday night.

After a discussion involving councilors, DEQ representatives, City Garbage Service owners and Union County planner Hanley Jenkins, councilor Doyle Slater suggested the matter be placed on a council agenda for a meeting soon so the plan can move forward.

We need to take the initiative, rather than wait for DEQ to order curbside recycling, Slater said.

A new plan will cost individual households an additional fee of anywhere from $1.82 to $4.64 a month, depending upon the option the council selects.

Councilor Dana Wright said something should be built into the fee structure to reduce the impact on low-income clients and seniors on fixed incomes. One idea discussed was adding a 25-cent fee to regular customers to cover the cost of serving about 175 low-income customers. Thus, the lowest increase to most customers would be $2.07.

City Manager Wes Hare said, People wont support a $3.50 fee, feeling they are paying for those who dont recycle.

Rather than having a curbside recycling system, the city has been operating under an alternative DEQ-approved plan of recycling newspapers, cans, glass, plastics, cardboard and mixed paper. People take the items to a recycling center on Willow Street.

However, according to a letter to the city from the DEQ, there has been a trend in the wrong direction for the recovery rate in the Union wastershed.

Since 1997, the letter said, the residents have disposed of more garbage while the amount of recyclables has decreased, resulting in a slide from a high recovery rate of 29 percent in 1997 to a rate of 22 percent in 2000.

Union Countys goal is 25 percent by 2005, according to the DEQ.

Adding curbside recycling will invigorate the La Grande recycling program ... and help reverse this trend, the letter said.

Ron Larvik of City Garbage Service, which has the franchise to collect garbage in the city, said the overall volume of garbage hasnt increased but recycling has leveled off.

Darin and Ron Larvik presented three options of how commingled curbside recycling could be accomplished.

Ron Larvik told the council it could come up with any other option it wanted but added too many choices become confusing.

The proposal that generated the most discussion and seemed most acceptable to the council is called Option 3. It would provide for a 64-gallon curbside recycling cart like the one customers now use (but a different color). Garbage would be picked up one week and recyclables the next.

Its the most inexpensive, providing the most efficient use of our equipment and labor, Ron Larvik said.

The disadvantage is that with every other week pickup, some customers could need two garbage carts and there would be confusion as to which cart to put out on which day.

However, other options might be too confusing and introduce too much traffic in neighborhoods, Ron Larvik said.

Under Option 1, recyclables would be picked up weekly and a customers garbage service options would remain as they are. That would result in a cost increase of $4.39 (plus 25 cents).

Under Option 2, recyclables would be picked up every other week, the garbage service would remain as it is now. Additional cost would be $3.94 (plus 25 cents).

Glass could not be placed in the recyclable bins under any of the alternatives presented.

The countys interest, Jenkins said, is in extending the life of the Fox Hill Landfill, where garbage is taken by City Garbage as well as by residential clients who dont have garbage service and by commercial establishments, some as far away as Umatilla County.

The landfill would last 4 years under the present system, Jenkins said. The plan is to no longer allow public access to the landfill.

Fifty percent of what is going to the landfill now is yard debris and industrial waste, Jenkins said. The county will provide an incentive for keeping some commercial waste out of the landfill, if it means a new rate structure.

The Larviks said it would take 6 to 7 months to implement a program, including educating the

public.

The DEQs Linda Hayes-Gorman told the council her agency would work with you on your timeline. We wont be unreasonable.

 
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