November 05, 2001 11:00 pm

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

The combination of heavy traffic and heavy recycling is expected to send City Garbage Service from its Willow Street recycling center to its new center on Highway 30 soon.

Darin Larvik, an owner of City Garbage, told the La Grande City Council during a work session Monday that the operation probably will move this winter to the material recovery facility just outside

La Grande.

Were way beyond our capacity at Willow Street and need to make a change, Larvik said.

Recycling has grown at the Willow Street center by 50 percent since 1993, Larvik said, and the bins are not large enough to hold all the recyclables. At the same time, traffic has increased, and with the scheduled opening of Safeway at Adams Avenue and Willow Street in December, Larvik said he expects even heavier traffic, creating a danger to recyclers and pedestrians.

City Garbage has asked the city to consider a curbside recycling system that would allow all city subscribers to put unmixed recyclables in a bin for pick up every other week. The company has proposed a cost of $3.50 a month to all subscribers. The cost would include a large rolling cart, similar to the garbage cart, where customers would put their recyclables. Glass and yard debris would not be recycled at curb side, although the material recovery facility will continue to accept yard debris.

Eventually, the entire City Garbage operation, including offices, will move to the MRF, said Ron Larvik, founder and an owner of City Garbage.

Weve grown to the point where something needs to be done, he said.

The council is expected to discuss and vote on the proposal at its Feb. 6 meeting.

Ron Larvik told the council that prices of recyclable material are low, and under the new system, the recycled material would not be separated here but shipped to Portland for separation. He said the cost of shipping will be about $12 per ton, $1 more than the price the company can get for the material.

La Grande Mayor Colleen Johnson said she is concerned that city residents are paying more for what is a countywide problem.

Basically the cost will come from La Grande residents, she said. Its a Union County problem.

The county has awarded Larviks company the franchise for operating the Fox Hill Landfill and collecting garbage on the north side of Union County, but the county and the company have not reached an agreement on the countywide cost of dumping garbage and recycling. The county has said that it will raise dumping fees but has not said by how much.

Union Sanitation collects garbage in the Union and North Powder areas of the county.

Councilor Dana Wright suggested that the county be asked to increase its rates and offer recycling to everybody.

Several councilors expressed support for curbside recycling, but there were a few questions about pricing.

If we go with curbside recycling, can we guarantee that the price will be locked in for a certain length of time? asked Joel


Goldstein also said, however, that he believes the cost of taking recyclables to a center could be balanced by the monthly cost of curbside recycling.

In the long run, I think it would increase recycling, he said. For me its a pain in the neck (to separate and haul recyclables to a center). Its a hassle to take it to Willow Street.

Darin Larvik predicted that curbside recycling would increase overall recycling by 50 percent.

If curbside recycling begins, the recycling center will be located inside the MRF and it will be open only from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Darin Larvik said he might hire somebody to staff the center on Saturdays.

He added that the fairly remote location of the MRF and the high winds along the Highway 30

corridor make open-bin, unrestricted recycling impractical and unsafe.