April 24, 2003
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In place of spring cleanup, recycling weekend planned

For at least the last 30 years local residents had an easy way, through the annual spring cleanup, to get rid of their old couches or grills or scrap metal.

That option, however, was lost for this year when Village Council agreed to suspend spring cleanup, as well as the brush pickup, over concerns for the cost of the events and their impact on the Village solid waste fund.

Now members of the Village Environmental Commission are planning an alternative event by holding the “Village Reuse and Recycle Weekend,” from Friday, May 9, beginning at noon, to Sunday, May 11, ending at 5 p.m. During this time, local residents can put out on their curbs stuff that others may want.

The key, however, is that it must be stuff in good condition or usable — because it will not be picked up by the Village’s waste hauler, Rumpke, after the weekend.

Anything that is left out on the curb by Sunday night must be removed and not left out for the regular garbage collection, several Environmental Commission members said.

Commission members plan on driving around town after the recycling weekend is over to remind residents who have left stuff out that was not taken. After 5 p.m. on Sunday, “it is the responsibility of the homeowner” to remove whatever items remain on the curb, said Council member Joan Horn, who is Council’s liaison on the commission.

“We don’t want to interfere with the trash collection the following week,” said Environmental Commission member Debra Karns. “It’s up to villagers to make it work,” Horn said.

Commission members heard from a number of local residents who planned on placing used items out on the curb, even though the Village is not sponsoring a spring cleanup this year, Delaine Adkins, the Environmental Commission chair, said in an e-mail.

“The EC wants to help direct this toward a productive weekend,” she said. “The swap-meet aspect of the old village cleanup should be preserved as an established way to encourage reuse.”

The question remains as to whether the project will work. The recycling weekend is not sanctioned by the Village and it is not replacing the weeklong spring cleanup.

Village Manager Rob Hillard on Friday declined to comment for this article, saying he did not know enough of the details of the weekend event to discuss it. However, at a Council meeting in February, when Horn suggested holding a community-wide recycling day, Hillard said that it was “a nice idea, but it will fail miserably.” Residents will “get into spring cleanup mode” and will expect Rumpke to pick up their stuff, Hillard said.

Other Council members at the time said that they might consider holding a recycling event if the Environmental Commission organized it.

Environmental Commission members said they believe it is worth holding the recycling weekend, at least once, to see if it works. The commission will use the weekend to learn “how to successfully transition the cleanup to a reuse event,” Adkins said.

Commission members also said that the event was a good example of practicing environmentally friendly practices. “I think it’s a wonderful way of minimizing the things going to the landfill,” Karns said.

“I think there is a need for it,” said Horn, noting that many people have saved things, instead of throwing them away, knowing that they could normally give them away during spring cleanup. “Some of this stuff is just as good as it was when you bought it 15, 20 years ago,” she said.

In February, Council agreed to suspend the weeklong spring cleanup and the brush pickup service, which is typically held at the same time, because the Village solid waste fund — which now pays for those events as well as garbage pickup — does not generate enough funds to support itself. Postponing the activities will save the Village an estimated $30,000 this year.

The solid waste fund maintained a financial balance during the last three years thanks to subsidies from the Village multi-fund, which is like a general fund. This year, the multi-fund will provide $17,000 to the solid waste fund.

Hillard has said that the solid waste system is struggling because it now pays for additional services, such as spring cleanup and the brush pickup, that were once supported by the multi-fund. In other words, the cost of the spring cleanup and the brush pickup is not accounted for in the Village’s solid waste rates.

The system’s rates cover what they were “intended to cover,” Hillard has said.

—Robert Mihalek