Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Town to make decision on recycling

Capitol Heights missed deadline to register for single-stream recycling

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The Town of Capitol Heights will give its residents a chance to chime in about possible participation in the county’s single stream recycling program, which kicked off in mid-November 2007.

A 7:30 p.m. public hearing is scheduled Monday at Town Hall, One Capitol Heights Blvd., to inform residents about single stream since the town missed its initial deadline to inform the county’s Department of Environmental Resources that Capitol Heights was interested.

Single stream recycling allows residents to place recyclable items such as plastic bottles, cardboard and newsprint in one container to be sorted at the Materials Recycling Facility, 1000 Ritchie Road in Capitol Heights.

Town Administrator James Booth said the town received a letter from the county’s Department of Environmental Resources in late September or early October saying the town had until Oct. 11 to join in the single-stream program, which would begin Nov. 1. However, nothing was discussed until the Jan. 28 town hall meeting.

Mayor Darrell Miller said he is looking into why the council just learned about the deadline and attributed the gap in communication to absences in the administrative office. DER set the Oct. 11 deadline to determine an estimate of how many residents would participate overall.

It is not too late for the town to participate, but Miller said the town will have to sign a contract with the county. Booth said if the town opts out of participating entirely, it would have to find its own recycling services.

Capitol Heights does not have its own recycling program and uses the county’s service, where residents still separate materials. Town Administrator James Booth said residents pay $40 annually, but because of an increase in the cost of living, the fee will increase to $42.81 regardless if the town chooses to participate.

If the town participates, residents would each receive a free 65-gallon recycling bin to replace the smaller yellow curbside bins. Booth said the town has 1,440 households.

Miller said he supports single-stream recycling and added that about 50 percent of residents actively recycle.

‘‘I think the numbers will be the same unless we do more education,” Miller said. ‘‘We’re looking to do more in spring and summer in terms of notifying people, trying to get them to recycle.”

Miller said increased recycling could save the town money on dumping fees.

‘‘We just want Capitol Heights to set the example,” Miller said. ‘‘That way we can challenge other municipalities to follow our lead.”

Resident Evelyn Grimes said a $2 increase in recycling fees seems harmless but the town council should still be aware of fee increases of any kind and their effects on senior residents who are on fixed incomes. Grimes, a 32-year resident, said she is not surprised she is only hearing about single-stream recycling now.

‘‘Every deadline they’re supposed to meet, they missed it,” Grimes said. ‘‘Last I heard they had missed the deadline for when they were meeting with the people with Verizon FIOS. I think when they have the public hearing I’ll definitely go to that because I want to see what they’re talking about.”

E-mail Natalie McGill at nmcgill@gazette.net.