By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
CAIRO — Town council members quibbled over whether to reopen the town’s recycling center.
Town Supervisor Jason Watts raised the issue at the March meeting of the town board.
“I have gotten a lot of calls about it,” Watts said.
The recycling center, formerly based at Angelo Canna Town Park, was closed Nov. 1, 2020, because people were dumping inappropriate items in the dumpster, such as furniture, mattresses and the like.
Watts said if the town were to reopen the recycling center, they would have to either hire a part-time employee to staff the facility or extend the hours of a part-time worker to make them full-time.
Town Councilman Tim Powers opposed the move.
“What if we end up in the same position as the last time, where things other than recyclables are dumped in the dumpster?” Powers said. “It is my understanding that the county has an agreement with the new company that, where they were waiving it before, this time they are going to start charging us.”
Much of the illegal dumping was being done overnight, he added.
“The last time it was done overnight no one even knew they were there because A, there are no cameras, and B, it was during the off hours,” Powers said. “So if we get into that situation again, we are going to be stuck paying the dumpster company.”
Watts said staffing the recycling center and installing a fence around the dumpster would alleviate much of the dumping of inappropriate items.
“So again, more money for recycling that will be open three measly days a week and money to have somebody man it. Why?” Powers asked.
“Because a lot of people have asked for it,” Watts responded.
Currently, local residents who do not pay a commercial company for trash and recycling pick-up travel to Catskill or Windham to dispose of their recyclables, Watts said.
“I am sorry if they are inconvenienced, but every garbage company in the area offers recycling and most of these people are taking their bagged trash to Catskill or to Windham, where they have recycling set up,” Powers said. “So what is it to throw an extra bag of recycling in your car and get rid of it at the same place where you are dumping your garbage? Where is the problem? This is why we closed it in the first place.”
Watts said that if an inappropriate item was dumped at a reopened recycling center, he would personally pay for its disposal and then the town could take another look at the issue.
Powers said closing the facility did not have a deleterious effect on the community.
“We have been without recycling for how long now and it hasn’t had this tremendous impact, where if we reopen it, it will have a tremendous financial impact because now we are paying a guy to sit there and babysit, and we are paying extra fees to empty the dumpster (of inappropriate items),” Powers said.
The county covers the cost of picking up legitimate recyclable items such as papers, cans and bottles.
Watts said following the closing of the recycling center there was an uptick in the number of couches, trash and other items dumped on roadsides and other locations.
“One of the complainants said that as soon as we closed recycling, garbage started showing up on the side of the road a lot more, especially up on Polly’s Rock,” Watts said.
Deputy Town Supervisor MaryJo Cords said the town could try reopening the center on a trial basis.
“We could pay somebody part-time for a trial period and then if people take advantage and dump other stuff, we could go back to not having it,” Cords said, adding she would also like to see a camera and signage warning people not to dispose of inappropriate items in the dumpster.
Powers remained opposed to the idea.
“I just don’t understand why we have to spend this money for three days a week to pay another salary or increase somebody’s hours and salary, plus pay a potential fee for a dumpster if it gets contaminated with things other than recyclables,” Powers said. “I think the whole idea is ludicrous. I really do. I just don’t know why we would even bother if it’s already closed.”
No decision was made on the reopening of the facility at the March meeting.