Blue Springs may soon have a solution to a recycling dilemma that’s plagued the city since the closing of its recycling center this past fall. Members of the Solid Waste Commission voted Wednesday on a list of four possible solutions, including re-opening the center using various forms of funding.
The group will present its recommendations to the City Council at an upcoming meeting, possibly in April, said Senior Planner Matt Wright, who oversees the five-member commission. City Council members can either act on one of the commission’s recommendations or ask city staff to further research the group’s findings, he told the group.
The commission’s recommendations include –
• Designating city funds to re-open and operate the center,
• Charging a residential fee to cover costs,
• Getting additional bids and other information from trash haulers to compare recycling costs,
• Striking a city ordinance that requires dumpsters to be placed within five feet of each residence.
The five-foot rule recommendation grew out of discussions with the operator of a local company who attended Wednesday’s meeting. He said the five-foot rule makes it more difficult and is more time intensive for haulers, especially if driveways are icy.
However, the one looming uncertainty in all proposals is cost, Wright said in an interview following the meeting. Therefore, the recommendations include gathering more information about the costs of each proposal, he said.
Skyrocketing operating costs led the Blue Springs City Council, as well as other Eastern Jackson County cities, to vote to close recycling centers. The centers had little to no profit for recyclables coupled with escalating costs. Blue Springs costs rose from about $12,000 annually during the last few years, to an estimated $100,000. The issue is global.
Other cities, including Independence and Grain Valley, also have closed their recycling facilities, and the entities have been meeting to explore establishing a regional recycling facility that would serve all three cities, Wright said at the meeting. He said such talks continue to be an alternative and are being organized by Mid-America Regional Council.
However, a regional center was not among the commission’s list of recommendations because it’s a long process, Wright said. As chairman of the Solid Waste Commission, which was formed in 1998, James Barry said the group’s members felt an obligation to the community to act timely once the center closed and has been pushing hard to determine a workable formula. “We felt like we needed to come up with some ideas instead of drawing it out longer,” he said following Wednesday night’s meeting.
Scott Casey, who leads Green Blue Springs, which also weighed in with suggestions for the commission, said he’s heard from many residents about the issue and are glad to see that one of the commission’s recommendations to the city council is getting more information from Blue Springs trash companies.
Social media is abuzz with residents wondering how much of their recycling is dumped up in a landfill instead of going to a recycler and that helped lead his group to suggest the commission ask for information from each Blue Springs trash company detailing how much they collect in recycling and trash over time. Some cities, such as Lee’s Summit, require haulers to supply that type of information. That way, customers could make more informed decisions about which company to use.
“It just gives you another data point to compare,” Casey said during an interview after the meeting. “If haulers are being falsely accused, we can know their numbers to clear their name,” said Casey, also a member of the Blue Springs Planning and Zoning Commission.
Casey helped form Green Blue Springs after a failed run for City Council. During his campaign, he heard from many residents who wanted longer hours at the still-operating recycling center. So, when the center closed, he knew he had to act and the group grew out of an impassioned plea to council members about his disappointment in the center’s closing. Residents contacted him about wanting to do more and it now has 24 members.
Barry said he heard complaints from residents, not only after the center’s closing, but, also about four years ago, when area schools ceased allowing recycling bins in their parking lots. But, Casey told the commission the popularity of recycling has not waned. He said, “I think it’s something people are (still) passionate about.”