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Mayor's Report for March 2002

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Rethinking Trash Disposal and Recycling in Our Home and Town

By Mayor Michael Herman

While trash disposal and recycling are not exciting subjects to most of us, how we perform these tasks affects the environment, our quality of life and yes, the bottom line of town finances as well. With 1200 single-family homes in our community, if every home recycled just 5 pounds of materials per week, it would result in 156 tons of "trash" being recycled instead of being sent to the landfill. The dumping fees alone for that amount is almost $8,000. Now add the 31 truck trips needed to haul that trash, the two hours for the 35-mile round trip, the 60+ lost work hours, the cost of the gasoline, and the wear and tear on your refuse packer. The figure almost doubles. The amount saved on this alone would pay to resurface a small street. It could also be used to build a nice playground. It could also be used to lower your taxes!

Now think about your home and how much recyclable waste goes into your trash can. In my home alone, I receive at least 10 pounds of junk mail and newspapers a week. Add to that bottles, cans and recyclable plastics. Getting the picture. If you have a large family, your figures could easily be double this amount. Right now you are paying the county to accept curbside recycled newspapers, phone books, magazines, cans, bottles and most plastics. You already have paid for the service (including the recycling bin) and every item that goes in the trash can that could have been recycled results in you allowing yourself to be taxed twice for the same service. It doesn't make sense to me either.

Every Saturday until 5:00 p.m. at the Public Works Building you can recycle any mixed paper that is not accepted by the county recycling program. Later this year we are going to examine the possible curbside recycling of mixed paper to make your lives even easier, provided that we can increase recycling and reduce dumping fees.

Other ways we can save the environment and money is for everyone to properly separate yard waste from regular trash. The town is now selling heavy-gauge clear plastic bags for $2.50 for a roll of 25 bags. Placing yard waste in clear bags will save time as our collectors can immediately identify yard waste from other trash. We pay half the dumping fees for yard waste at a facility other than the county landfill. Every item delivered there is composted or turned into mulch that can be reused. In fact, wood chips from this program are returned to the town at no cost, and now the town is offering free mulch at the public works building for anyone who wants to pick it up. It is being stored at the end of Queensbury Road (near the public works building). That's how recycling works to save natural resources and save money for our residents.

It is often said that we are the keepers of the world for the next generation. How we conserve resources by reusing and recycling goes a long way. Full recycling in every home saves trees and protects lands from mining for aluminum and other metals. We even recycle heavy metal such as iron and steel. A town the size of Riverdale Park can reduce its annual dumping fees by at least 25% saving tens of thousands of dollars. This gets us more bang for the buck and a little shelter for the next generation. Let's work together to make our community greener in many ways.

Please also take a few minutes to read the article by Councilmember Rebecca Feldberg outlining ways that the town may be able to create a more efficient Public Works Department. We welcome your input on any of these proposals designed to improve service delivery for you, the residents and taxpayers of this town.

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