Council readdresses, reconfirms its deal with Waste Pro
Concern from residents over the size and weight of new refuse cans prompted the mayor to broach the discussion again on Monday, just weeks after City Council approved switching its waste management service provider.
Waste Pro was chosen over continuing to use Waste Manage-ment in early April.
The city entered into a five-year contract with Waste Pro at $10,536,146.94 annually.
Waste Pro plans on implementing a new automated trash collection system, which requires each household to have a 95-gallon bin for trash, and a 65-gallon bin for recycleables.
Mayor John Sullivan said residents were concerned about the size of the trash cans.
“I don’t believe some of our more elderly seniors can handle these cans,” Sullivan said.
Waste Pro Regional Vice President Keith Banasiak told council that citizens who have trouble moving the bin will be able to get assistance from Waste Pro staff with the proper medical exemption.
Banasiak said Waste Pro staff will retrieve the can, and then return it once the can has been emptied.
Banasiak added that this kind of reaction is typical when a service provider is changed and a new system is put in place.
“The can is oversized for a reason, so everything can fit inside,” he said. “But I do expect some complaints (as a new service provider).”
Banasiak said Waste Pro will take over for Waste Management on Oct. 1, and that the new cans are expected to be delivered just days prior. He said pick-up schedules will not change for homeowners.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said he’s heard nothing but positive things from other cities that use similar, automated systems.
He said that change is probably at the heart of concerns over the cans size.
“A lot of it is that they worry about something different,” McGrail said.
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said the new system could actually save lives, citing the recent death of a Waste Management employee who was killed by a motorist while on the job.
“I think we should give this program a chance,” Chulakes-Leetz said.
School speed zone
City Council also approved a speed zone in front of Challenger Middle School, at a cost of over $250,000.
The bulk of the cost is dedicated to new signage with flashing lights that will slow down drivers as they pass the school.
Challenger Middle Principal Teri Cannady said previously that shes been working with the city for six months to put the speed zones in place.
City staff did not recommend installing speed zones, but council decided to approve the speed zones anyway.
Councilmember Marty McClain wanted the Lee County School Board to provide some financial help on items like this, instead of the city absorbing the project in its entirety.
“I feel the school system needs to be a part of the negotiations as a whole,” McClain said.
Councilmember Erick Kuehn, citing his days as a high school teacher, said the speed zones are an absolute need, regardless of the price tag.
“How much is the life of a child worth? The longer we drag this on, the more of a chance we risk of child getting injured,” Kuehn said.
The item passed 6 – 2, with McClain and Kevin McGrail dissenting.
In other news, council unanimously approved a scrub jay mitigation plan for Festival Park, ensuring the city will one day be able to develop the land.
The plan adds another $800,000 to the cost of Festival Park, which has thus far cost the city roughly $26 million to acquire piece meal.
The birds, listed as a federally threatened species, occupy 74.8 acres of the 215 acre Festival Park.
The mitigation is required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop the Festival Park land area.
The city will work in conjunction with the Lee County’s Conservation 20/20 program as part of the effort, participating in an long-term restoration of 20/20 land known to be inhabited by scrub jays.
The city is actually saving money by spending the $800,000. Without the mitigation, the city would be forced to pay $4 million into a federal mitigation fund to buy land.
Councilmember Pete Brandt said the city is benefitting by using Conservation 20/20 land for free.
“If we had to buy land, we’d be in a pickle,” Brandt said.