'Over my dead body,' alderman says of sale

The Evanston Recycling Center in an Aug. 2014 image from Google Maps.

Trash hauler Groot Industries last week offered to buy the Evanston Recycling Center on Oakton Street, but an alderman says a sale to Groot would only happen "over my dead body."

The comment came Monday night from Alderman Ann Rainey, whose 8th Ward includes the site of the shuttered recycling center at 2222 Oakton St.

The city has been seeking potential new uses for the center, but there was no indication Monday night of support from aldermen for the unsolicited proposal from Groot to turn the property into a transfer station.

Many residents have complained for years about odor and other problems stemming from operations of the only current waste transfer station in the city, at 1711 Church St.

The Groot offer came as part of discussions with city staff about a potential renewal of the company's trash hauling contracts with the city, which are scheduled to expire in October. The city faces an April deadline for telling Groot whether it plans to renew the agreements.

Suzette Robinson points toward the screen during her presentation on solid waste operations.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson, in a presentation to aldermen, outlined several options for trying to expand waste services while reducing the roughly $1 million dollar shortfall in operating revenue over costs. 

She suggested adding a multi-family recycling program, which -- depending on the charge to building owners -- could bring in $500,000 or more a year while adding only about $215,000 in costs.

And she proposed a new textiles recycling drop off or collection program operated by city crews, saying textiles account for about 4 percent of the residential waste stream.

She also said that Groot was proposing to collect food scraps as part of the yard waste cart collection program, and she suggested quadrupling the yard waste cart fee from $25 to $100 to cover the cost of that program.

More broadly, Robinson said she planned to meet this week with Skokie officials to discuss whether the two communities could achieve any economies of scale in combining their solid waste operations.

The City Council is scheduled to have a further discussion of solid waste disposal options next month.

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Comments

THANK YOU Alderman Rainey!

What we DON'T need in Evanston is yet another transfer station. Veolia's transfer station is a blight in the neighborhood where it resides. I've read enough comments of residents that live near that station to know my neighbors and I definitely do not want one up the street from us. Also, I'm sure the soccer parents do not want to enjoy their child's game at James Park while smelling the mid-summer high-heat stench these places put out. Can't we get a nice family-style restaurant in that building? Seriously, this side of town is fast becoming a venue for families so why not have a family restaurant?

Thank you Alderman Rainey

We do not need another transfer station specifically in a residential area. James Park is next door which is used by many children and families. Southwest Evanston deserves better than this!

Not Residential

The old recycling Center is not located in a residential area. You have a small Mall across the street from it as well as other Commercial/Industrial businesses just West of it.

Increase Yard Cart Fee from $25 to $100? 300% INCREASE?

Suzette Robinson "suggested quadrupling the yard waste cart fee from $25 to $100 to cover the cost of that program." That is a 300% increase in the program! I do not understand how the math could have been off so badly when they initiated the cost of the yard cart/yard stickers just a few short years ago. How could our city employees possibly have been so erroneous that we now need a 300% increase in the fee to cover their error? There is something wrong with the level of "expertise" we are getting from our city employees. This is the type of thing that underscores just how bad they are at their job. If they are going to increase the cost of the cart this much, where do I call to have them pick mine up? They are out of their minds!

Scope of project is changing

The quadrupling of the yard waste cart fee is in response to expansion of the program. So, the initial cost would no longer be applicable because the scope of the program would have changed.

Yard Waste

So I should pay 300% more because Groot wants to collect food waste? I already compost my food waste so I don't need this service. I also don't believe a 300% increase is worth it.

Yard waste pickup is currently severely underpriced

For the past couple of years there has been around $750k moved from the general fund to subsidize the pickup of yard waste. This is due to the fact that the stickers and yard waste carts are underpriced. There is no reason the city should subsidize yard waste pickup. Generally the larger the properties generate the larger amount of yard waste, so it is a giveaway to people with higher incomes. There is no reason why most of the city's yard "waste" can't be dealt with on-site through mulching of leaves and composting. In fact, leaves and grass clippings shouldn't be considered "waste" as they contain valuable carbon and nitrogen that is essential to soil and plant health. The fact that we are subsidizing property owners to haul away an environmental asset is ridiculous. I wholeheartedly support the city raising the price for this service. Raising the price will incentivize socially responsible behavior. Right now the city is incentivizing socially irresponsible behavior, which makes no sense.

Yard waste prices

I don't mind paying my fare share for yard waste pickup, but the current sticker system is a hassle and does seem a little pricey.  I would also point out that the larger properties are the same ones that pay larger property tax bills, so it's not really a "giveaway" for them.   We don't put out grass clippings, but we put out probably fewer than 10 bags a year of weeds and leaves.  It's not practical to deal with all of it on site, and the City doesn't put into the landfill, they recycle it.

Frosty - who did this?

The reason this is a mess is the director a few years back screwed up the budget - she claimed they would sell around $800,000 in yard waste stickers - sold around $200,000!  She created bad numbers to justify keeping the city workers versus privatizing the entire operation! Remember they flip-floped between the city and the private company.

By the way I have a yard waste cart, I do not use it for grass but mostly for trimmings off my shrubs, that is small branches, I leave about 50% of my leaves in my yard, some I take to the community garden, and maybe fill one cart with leaves from near the street which are full of gas, dust and salt.

I am tired as a citizen of paying for the mismanagement of the city by public official and city staff who play politics with our money.

Do away with sewers?

According to Frosty, yard waste contains valuable carbon & nitrogen that is essentail to soil and plant health.  Can't the same be said of human waste?


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