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by Susan Mikula Campbell
By spring, Wheatfield residents should be wheeling out 64-gallon totes filled with recyclables to the end of their driveways every other week.
The Town Board on Monday awarded a three-year contract for refuse and recycling to Modern Disposal. Supervisor Bob Cliffe said Modern offered the town the best deal and the most return on recycling over the other two bidders, Waste Management and Allied Recycling.
Modern offered a guaranteed minimum recycling rebate to the town of $30,000 per year, which would reduce the town's total three-year cost for refuse removal to $2,466,548 or less. The contract includes the possibility of two two-year extensions.
Final contract details have yet to be negotiated with Modern and a bid awarded for the totes.
Currently, residents carry out small recycling bins along with their garbage cans or bags for weekly pickup. When the new 64-gallon totes arrive and are distributed to residents, garbage will continue on a weekly pickup schedule, but recycling pickup will be done every other week.
Niagara County Environmental Coordinator Dawn Timm, who was at Monday's meeting, said Lockport changed to the large tote recycling system in October and has seen about a 33 percent reduction in garbage as the amount of recycling being done grows. This results in considerable savings to the city.
Cliffe said the town has been paying Modern more than $1 million for garbage collection in the past couple of years. With the recycling rebate under the new contract, the town's cost for refuse and recycling collection in 2012 should drop to about $871,632 in 2012 and be down to $842,433 or less in 2013 and 2014.
The totes are expected to cost about $60 or $70 each, and the town is planning to cover this initial cost by bonding.
"We will be saving money even with buying the totes," Cliffe said. "Refuse costs will be substantially under what we budgeted, so we should have a fund balance there."
He added that if some of the town's senior citizens think the new totes are too much for them to handle, Modern is agreeable to negotiate a smaller size for them or even make special arrangements to come up the driveway and pick up the totes from in front of the garage.
The large totes have wheels and a lid so newspapers and other recycling aren't blown down the street. Residents do not have to sort or separate the items they recycle. The totes are designed for automated pickup by Modern's trucks so the driver doesn't need to leave the vehicle.
"We want this to succeed," said Joe Hickman, Modern sales manager. He noted that if residents are given more capacity via the large bins, it has been found that they recycle more items. The totes are designed so a 47 mph sustained wind is needed before they blow over, he said.
Modern also will provide materials for the town to educate residents on what can be recycled.
"There's a whole bunch of stuff people don't realize can be recycled," Town Attorney Bob O'Toole said, citing plastic shopping bags as an example.
Details still to be discussed about the large tote recycling include who is responsible for the totes if a house is sold, if there is to be a fee to residents to replace a tote that is damaged, lost or stolen, and where the town will store extra totes.
Two residents at the meeting spoke against the large tote plan. One said the totes would end up on the other side of his street, because that's where his garbage can is blown. Another said he was "personally opposed to having any ugly tote like that in my garage."
Resident Walt Bissett suggested that a specification be made that the totes the town ends up purchasing be made in the United States.
In other matters:
•Rich Donner, water/sewer director, reminded local contractors that under town law, snow piles cannot be plowed within five feet of fire hydrants. Councilman Art Gerbec added that snow also can't be pushed across the street into a neighbor's yard. Art Kroening, highway superintendent, reminded residents that there is no parking on town roads from 2 to 6 a.m. until April 1 to allow for plowing.
•Ed Sturgeon, recreation director, reported that several classes are being planned for senior citizens. The classes would be held during the day at the town's Youth Center and include a Zumba gold class and several computer classes to help seniors who have sons and daughters overseas or living in another state learn about emailing, transferring photos and using Skype for video chat.
•The board approved the request of Tri-Community Ambulance to use the Community Center once a month for meetings. Gerbec pointed out that the ambulance service is a non-profit group, in which all personnel are volunteers and the only charge to residents is for fuel and use of ambulance consumable items. It is one of two groups of its type in the state, Gerbec said. "Their membership is growing, and they would like some place to have an organized meeting."
•The board held an executive session on a Highway Department personnel issue.
•The next regular Town Board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12. The board decided not to hold a second meeting in December, which would have fallen on Dec. 26. The board decided that because of the holiday, matters normally handled at the second meeting could be dealt with either at the reorganization meeting on Jan. 3 or the Jan. 8 regular meeting.