Citizens call for keeping curbside recycling

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 8, 2003

The city needs to bite the bullet and keep curbside recycling.

That’s the message four residents sent to city leaders Wednesday night during the Southeastern Public Service Authority’s information session at the Municipal Building.

SPSA, the regional waste disposal agency, and city sponsored the forum find out whether Suffolk residents are satisfied with the agency’s recycling program.

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Now, the city spends $161,734 for bi-weekly curbside recycling service for 12,836 residents. According to SPSA, 26 percent of those people actually participate.

SPSA proposes a move to an automated collection system, replacing the 12-gallon blue containers with a 95-gallon bin. The city is looking at three potential arrangements with SPSA, including:

— Converting the blue bins to 95-gallon containers for automated pickup in the service area, at an annual cost of $496,573. That would be an increase of $334,840.

— Putting all residents on the automated system and eliminating the drop-off centers. The expansion would cost $911,040, raising the city’s investment by

$749,306.

— Discontinuing the curbside program and opening 36 recycling drop-off containers throughout the city. This program would cost $140,400, reflecting savings of $21,334 to the city.

City council members will use the citizens’ input in advising Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett, the city’s representative on SPSA’s Board of Directors, in making his recommendation to the agency.

Reducing or eliminating the city’s curbside recycling services would be a mistake that would ultimately cost more that funding the program’s rising costs, speakers said.

Jay Dorschel, who lives in the downtown area, said his family supports SPSA’s proposal to move to the 95-gallon automated recycling system.

&uot;Suffolk has spent a lot of time polishing its image,&uot; he said &uot;Getting rid of curbside recycling would tarnish that image.

&uot;…I don’t know what kind of price you can put on something that is the right thing to do.&uot;

Lucy Carter, president of the Riverview Civic League, agreed.

&uot;To say that I believe we need to be environmentally friendly is an understatement,&uot; she said. &uot;We either have to make a conscious effort to do the right thing now or we will have to do it later.

&uot;…Sometimes we just have to suck up and do the right thing.&uot;

Carter said she believes fewer people will participate if the city moves to all drop-off sites.

Sallie Sebrell, a Whaleyville resident who brings her recyclables to the bins on Market Street, agreed.

&uot;I’m a diehard,&uot; Sebrell said, adding that most people will probably opt to not recycle if the drop-off system is the only option.

Even though she doesn’t have curbside service in her area, Sebrell supports moving to the automated system.

&uot;Recycling should be convenient,&uot; she said. &uot;…If it’s going to cost more, it’s going to cost more.&uot;