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[November 28, 2012]
Public works plans to lend a hand with limb disposal
Nov 28, 2012 (Kilgore News Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Disposing of green waste is no longer cost-effective under the City of Kilgore's current plan, and city officials are pursuing a new avenue to both reduce cost and increase service through a central green waste center.
According to public works director Seth Sorensen, a gravel truck currently runs a daily route picking up tree limps and other 'green' debris, covering one quadrant of the city each week.
"A lot of the time we use with this gravel truck is spent trying to find piles. This is probably one of the largest areas of calls I received, is missed piles: they think that if they have it out there at any point of the week, that it should be picked up," he told council members Monday. "That's not the case." Meanwhile, dumping the debris is now costly -- the owner of the city's traditional drop-off site now charges $3.50 per cubic yard of green waste, amounting to between $36,000 and $55,000 per year.
Landfilling the waste is costly, and temporary help from the City of Longview's green waste center, while appreciated, means extra distance for the truck and time constraints to fit the schedule of the other center, Sorensen said. Frankly, all of the extra costs are enough to cover another full-time employee.
"We don't feel we're going to get away from spending all that money," but a local green waste center may return more for the money.
The Old Shore Refinery Site at 2404 Longview Street would be an ideal location, he said, of no use to commercial development because of contamination from the refinery.
"As long as we're going in there and we're not disturbing the soil, we're not putting down permanent structures, we should be able to use this site to stockpile our green waste and chip for temporary purposes." Meanwhile, a $25,000 grant from the East Texas Council of Governments will cover, probably, twothirds of the cost of a new wood chipper -- residents and businesses could pick up the chippings, for free, for use in their own landscaping.
"I do know there are certain businesses around that would be able to use this material if we refine it far enough." The current proposal from public works would utilize about five acres of the 7.5 acre refinery site, currently surrounded by a short fence. In addition to the gravel truck's routes, residents whose collections were too early or too late for the pickup could drop off their excess green waste on Thursday and Friday afternoons.
"This would give us the rest of the week and the mornings of those days to try and run the chipper and do our mowing, as this is part of the right of way division," Sorensen noted.
Other expected costs at the site include construction of a concrete driveway, restroom rental for the two city employees manning the center, rental of a trash container, notifying residents of the service through their water bills and other means and disposing of excess wood chips.
"Finding uses for the wood chips is probably one of the most difficult things," Sorensen said, the same problem the city faced when it offered the service years back. "I don't have a solid handle on how much that would be -- it depends on how much we bring in, how much we handle on a given day." Even if it becomes necessary to landfill the excess wood chips, it will still be less expensive than the current trips -- "As it is for right now, we're paying for loose brush. We don't meet the minimum weight requirement at the landfill. By making it more dense material that we can load into trucks, we'll be paying for what we're actually hauling." Ultimately, Sorensen said, the goal is to give residents the benefit of free wood chips while saving money, ideally reducing landfill costs by 50 percent.
"That in and of itself might be a little unrealistic. We may see only 20 or 30 percent. But I would like to have a goal of trying to save as much money as possible through this process," he explained. "Some of the cost-savings from this venture would be by reducing or eliminating routes for the truck, using this site as a transfer station and reducing our landfill fees." "Personally, I would not want to see us stop the original pickup from that, but to use this as an additional way to get that out from your home," Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon noted. "If we can save some dollars from that, it's great -- I wouldn't want to save that 50 percent by eliminating that service." Both services will evolve as time goes on, Sorensen said, using feedback from users to determine the best hours for the center and for the truck routes as well -- the option of establishing a green waste center ranked high on the city's summer survey of residents.
"This is going to be a very good project that will allow citizens an opportunity to not only take care or dispose of their landscape material in a timely, convenient and cost-effective manner," City Manager Scott Sellers said, "but to also utilize the chippings for their own personal use at no cost." A presentation only Monday night, council members will likely vote on the purchase of the wood chipper and other issues related to the green waste center at future meetings.
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