Unwieldy recycling carts prompt public outcry

Slightly smaller bin might become option, depending on cost

Oct. 19, 2010

Germantown - Vigorous community opposition has put the village's contract with Waste Management on hold.

In June, the board unanimously approved a new five-year contract. On Monday, for the second straight Village Board meeting, about 60 people showed up to voice their displeasure with the cumbersome size of the new 96-gallon recycling carts.

"I've had numerous calls from elderly people in the area, living alone, (who) just physically can't maneuver the carts," Trustee David Baum said. "I want to get them something that they can utilize."

Any person needing assistance getting the large cart to the street can get help through the company.

"I understand what disabled people want and don't want, and they don't want help. They want to be able to do things on their own," Baum, an architect by trade, said.

Waste Management has agreed to a 60-day trial period, in which people can try out the new carts, and to offer a 64-gallon cart free of charge to people who find they need a smaller cart. That is, as long as less than 5 percent of village households - about 270 - want to make the switch. A representative from Waste Management said in most municipalities about 5 percent of people ask for smaller containers.

Lack of options frustrating

Many people attending the meeting and on the board said they believe this simply doesn't go far enough.

Resident Steven Wesolowski organized an elaborate presentation to the board, insisting everyone be given the option to choose between the 96-, 64- and 35-gallon recycling containers. He said it was disappointing the village chose to lock into the largest containers without looking at other options.

"There are other companies out there. I've talked to those companies that are more than willing to work with Germantown to provide carts. I think we could get a good deal on 100 or 200 carts," he said.

The board voted 6-3 to shoot down a plan to add the smallest 35-gallon container to the addendum to the existing contract. Waste Management said the cost for those containers is the highest, and they would have to be special-ordered.

At least for now, those 35-gallon containers are not on the list of things the village might get. The board delayed signing the contract until an agreement can be reached with Waste Management about the trial period and an estimated cost is determined for 64-gallon carts should more than 5 percent of households want them.

Board members and residents alike agreed that having the village pay for new carts is simply out of the question.

"If we had an extra $5,000 or $10,000, wouldn't we rather see more road work?" Trustee Terri Kaminski asked the crowd. "I would in front of my house."

Contract already valid

Once an agreement is worked out with Waste Management, the contract will go back to the board for final approval in November. The village's attorney said the contract is essentially already valid since the board voted for its approval.

Some on the board admitted it may have been shortsighted not to try to get more choices for residents. Any sweeping changes to allow more choices likely will have to wait until the contract expires in five years.

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