Randolph residents fill Town Hall as trustees weigh recycling options

Lyndsey Brennan/The Portager

Recycling took center stage in Randolph Township’s packed Town Hall on Thursday evening as trustees debated what to do about the nine central dropoff bins that are constantly being filled with garbage.

The recycling bins are located in the Moyer Field parking lot on Waterloo Road, near the administration building. Enclosing the bins with a fence is not an option as there would be no room for the trucks to maneuver, Trustee Sue White said.

Trustees said they will investigate moving the recycling bins to an area behind the township salt shed or removing some bins, and they will confer with recycling center officials and county commissioners, White said. 

They will also explore an idea raised by Randolph resident John Francis, who said that Lake Township’s recycling site is fenced in. Residents must pay $25 per year and are issued a key card to open the gate. The site is neat and clean, he said, though he added that people who don’t want to pay the fee or want to dump trash and garbage just go to other communities or roadsides.

White’s suggestion to install new surveillance cameras and prosecute people who dump trash and garbage in the bins did not seem to gain traction, though both measures may be taken.

“We have mattresses and blankets that are covered with bugs, diapers, someone threw meat in there,” Fiscal Officer Mary Rodenbucher said. “A resident called me and said, ‘You might want to get this out of here before it becomes a problem.’ So then the issue becomes a safety issue for our road department that cleans it. They were told they need to wear gloves because of the possibility of staph.”

Needles, sanitary napkins and just about everything else gets thrown into the bins, trustees said.

The area was monitored by surveillance cameras, and there is signage, but none of it made a difference, Trustee John Lampe said.

“The county won’t do anything about it,” he said.

“It’s not a recycle, it’s a garbage dump,” White agreed, adding that sometimes the bins are so contaminated that nothing can be recycled.

Three township road workers are tasked with cleaning the area around Randolph’s bins every day, and once a week they walk a larger area to clean up material that blows around when the bins are emptied, Rodenbucher said.

Those same road workers have gotten into arguments with people who have been caught dumping, she said, citing an incident involving a person who didn’t even live in Randolph trying to dispose of a truckload of fencing. The incident almost came to fisticuffs, she said.

“When someone dumps something we can’t dispose of, like carpet remnants, we have to pay to dispose of it,” Rodenbucher said.

Randolph’s nine bins cost $600 each per year, for a total of $5,400. Trustee Roger Klodt said he has heard the price could increase to $1,600 per bin after the first of the year, though this figure is not not confirmed, he cautioned. That, trustees agreed, would abruptly end recycling in Randolph Township.

“If they raise the price of the bins, we can’t afford it anyway. And if people just keep on dumping trash, we’re going to have to get rid of it,” White said. “Again, it’s all money.”

For the trustees and the fiscal officer, though, the workers’ safety is paramount.

“You’d hate to have something happen, some awful illness or maybe get a staph infection,” Rodenbucher said.

Klodt said Dawn Collins, recently appointed as acting director of the Portage County Solid Waste Management District, has asked for more time to implement her ideas.

“Our primary concern is the health and safety of our road workers, cleaning that up on a daily basis,” Klodt said.

Deerfield Township Trustee Ed Dean said recycling had become so expensive and problematic there that the township shut down its central recycling site. It’s not what Randolph wants to do, White said.

The township needs to continue recycling, “but it is a daily chore and a daily mess for the road crew to go in there and clean it up,” White said.

One option is curbside recycling, now dialed in at $5.50 a month for biweekly service. White, however, said she has fielded multiple calls from township residents who do not want that service.

“If we were to go to curbside recycling in Randolph, we would put it up for a vote for you guys to vote on it,” Rodenbucher said, mindful of the cost involved.

Even with curbside bins,”people who abuse it are going to abuse it,” Dean said, citing instances of kitty litter and motor oil secreted in the bottom of the receptacles.

Trustees called for residents to submit a list of questions they could pose to commissioners, with an eye toward dollar signs.