Sandusky hopes grant can fund curbside recycling

SANDUSKY While interviewing for a vacant city commi
May 24, 2010



While interviewing for a vacant city commission seat in December, Gene Goff couldn't find his censor button.

"Your recycling program sucks," he told the commissioners.

Despite Goff's lack of tact, which made city officials shake their heads, many in attendance conceded he had a point.

As of 2004, Erie County residents and businesses only recycled 12 percent of their waste, according to the Erie County Solid Waste District.

And Sandusky is one of the county's biggest problems. Despite the city's constant promotion of green initiatives, Sandusky doesn't have curbside recycling.

But that could change soon.

Lisa Beursken, coordinator of the Erie County Solid Waste District, along with Allied Waste, a local company, are pursuing a $200,000 Market Development Grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The grant would allow Allied Waste to turn their building on Ohio 101 into a recycling transfer facility, which all local haulers could use.

Beursken won't find out until early June if they'll receive the grant.

But if they do, she said the recycling plant will be open before the end of the year.

"It might even be sooner," she said. "But we don't want to put unnecessary time pressures on (Allied Waste)."

If the grant falls through, the city's back-up plan is to continue leasing the large drop-off bins at the General Services Complex and Kiwanis Park. But this scenario presents a problem for the city and the county.

Throughout the past six months, both entities have begun promoting themselves as "green" communities, hoping to woo companies committed to sustainability.

They're counting on those companies to bring jobs and restore the local economy.

If potential employers discover the city lacks a basic, environmentally-friendly program like curbside recycling, they could change their minds.

"That's a valid concern," city manager Matt Kline said. "They might go to California or Massachusetts or another state more committed to recycling."

According to Erie County Solid Waste District's soon-to-be-released long-term plan, Erie County now recycles about 30 percent of its total waste -- a 250 percent increase from 2004.

Beursken said the county is committed to recycling 50 percent of its waste by 2015.

But if Sandusky doesn't have curbside recycling, reaching that goal is unlikely, officials said. And their goal of attracting environmentally-friendly companies might also fall short.

City commissioner Dave Waddington said something has to be done. In the coming weeks, he and fellow commissioner Pervis Brown will begin talking with local haulers about how to best implement curbside recycling.

Waddington said they will discuss both scenarios: If Allied Waste gets the $200,000 grant, and if they don't.

Either way, he said, it's imperative they find a solution.

"It's simple: Reuse, recycle, reuse," he said. "We have to get on this. The rest of the world's doing it; we have to catch up."