by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Wheatfield Town Board on Monday approved a final refuse/recycling contract with Modern Disposal Service, retaining the right to set criteria to provide smaller recycling totes to residents who might need them.
By this spring, a new bi-weekly recycling program should be in place and 65-gallon recycling totes distributed to Wheatfield residents. The change will bring a guaranteed minimum recycling rebate to the town from Modern of $30,000 per year.
Gil Adams of the Eagle Lake Homeowners Association attended the meeting to speak on behalf of residents in his development who want a smaller recycling tote. Of 36 residences, most occupied by senior citizens, 15 are occupied by single people and 14 of them are single women, he said.
"We feel a smaller container will be more than adequate," he said, noting that residents who have two cars in their garages don't have room for big totes. He added that other than at Thanksgiving or Christmas, older residents wouldn't have the extra amount of things to recycle that would fill a larger tote.
"If you bring that (large tote) to my house, it's going to sit out there until somebody takes it away," said fellow Eagle Lake resident Jim Dow.
Councilman Kenneth Retzlaff suggested the town might order half of the totes needed in the smaller size for those who wanted them.
Gary Smith, Modern chief operating officer and vice president, said when Lockport first proposed going to large tote recycling there also was a lot of concern about tote size, which "didn't materialize after we put them out."
He added that the large totes allow Modern to go to trucks with automated pickup ability and bi-weekly collection.
The totes have wheels for easy handling and lids to keep recycling from blowing down the street in bad weather, options the current small basket totes used by the town don't offer.
The guarantee of a minimum recycling rebate in the contract was based on the 65-gallon totes bringing in an anticipated volume of recyclables, Smith said.
He said studies have shown the 65-gallon totes work best and that some places use totes as large as 90 gallons. As for filling the 65-gallon totes, Lockport's experience hasn't shown any problem; "a lot of people fill them up, quite frankly."
Modern Sales Manager Joe Hickman added that the company took a group of skeptical Lockport residents on a field trip to Buffalo to show them what is recycled and how the operation works, and said he would be willing to do the same in Wheatfield, as well as provide other educational materials.
Supervisor Bob Cliffe pointed out to the Town Board, that it could decide to give up the minimum $30,000 a year. Another plus to the program is the new natural gas trucks Modern plans to use for recycling, which are cleaner for the environment and less noisy as they drive along town roads, he said.
Councilman Larry Helwig pointed out that the board already had approved ordering 93 percent in large totes and 7 percent in small totes.
The board decided that the town, not Modern, will decide who will be eligible for smaller totes, based on disabilities, age and other problems. People would have to have a special reason to apply for a smaller tote, Bob O'Toole, town attorney, said.
In other matters, the board decided to withdraw its energy efficiency grant request to NYSERDA and to submit a grant request to National Grid instead.
Board members were told the National Grid program is more comprehensive and covers all four of the town's buildings instead of just two. The National Grid program, called 15 by 15, aims to reduce the energy use footprint by 15 percent in 15 years. The program will include installing new high efficiency light fixtures, some with occupancy sensors that will turn lights on and off.
Councilman Gil Doucett pointed out that while the town might have to make 24 monthly payments of $900 for the project, the first year's annual savings is expected to be $50,000. "It's sort of a no-brainer," he said.