By Mark Vasto and Rachel Atwood
Seeking to build on the extraordinary success of recent local recycling initiatives, several downtown merchants, local waste haulers and the Ripple Glass company are eyeing Parkville’s historic downtown for a potential receptacle site but the city’s Community Land and Recreation Board (CLARB) isn’t receptive -- at least not yet.
As previously reported in The Luminary, Ripple Glass CEO Stacia Stelk has expressed interest in expanding their glass recycling efforts in Parkville. The company, an initiative started by Boulevard Brewing, has more than 80 drop off locations primarily south of the river but their Parkville site, located just across Gomer’s Fine Wines and Liquors in the Parkville Commons, is the third largest collection site for the company.
According to numbers provided to The Luminary, the Gomer’s site, maintained by Gomer’s owner Tom Stacey, has recycled more than 270 tons of glass since its inception a little more than a year ago.
Downtown merchants, in addition to glass recycling, have also been clamoring for plastic and cardboard recycling. To that end, Allied Waste Services and Deffenbaugh Industries have been approached for plastic and cardboard recycling. Deffenbaugh offered a quote of $38 per monthly pickup. Ripple does not charge for pickup.
Initial plans call for multi-compartment bins for plastic and cardboard in addition to a purple Ripple Glass container to be located at the northern edge of the downtown parking lot -- a site directly across from the city’s Farmer’s Market pavilion.
That proposal met with opposition by the Community Land and Recreation Board (CLARB) meeting, who rejected the idea in a vote at their last meeting. Noting the close proximity to the Farmer’s Market -- an area that is overseen by the city Park’s Department -- the board voiced concerns over appearance, cleanliness and site maintenance.
CLARB chair Cory Miller said the board didn’t see a fit at the proposed location, adjacent to English Landing Park, widely considered to be the city’s top tourism draw.
“The parks master plan is to clean [the city] up, not clutter it up,” Miller said.
In addition, he expressed concern over the already limited parking spaces that would be dedicated to the receptacles. It is speculated that the bins could take up at least three parking spots. Miller acknowledged that the board, which serves in an advisory role, was open to the idea if the location were changed.
Newly elected Ward 3 Alderman Kendall Welch, who resigned from CLARB last fall, spoke at the Wednesday meeting of the Main Street Parkville Association (MSPA) on the topic. Welch, generally credited with spearheading the recycling movement in Parkville, said she was at the meeting to gather input from the MSPA members and representatives regarding potential locations, potential service providers, in addition to a discussion on the size and type of receptacle needed.
Ward 1 Alderman Jim Brooks suggested a questionnaire be sent to merchants in order to help aldermen determine their recycling needs.
Parks Superintendent Tom Barnard said that the CLARB vote could be overturned by a vote of the Parkville Board of Aldermen. In addition to Welch and Brooks, Ward 2 Alderman Scott McCruer was present at the meeting and expressed support.
It was unclear if any of the three aldermen specifically championed the proposed site, however. Alternate locations such as the area behind the shops at English Landing or behind Cafe Cedar across the street from the Parkville Post Office (which already hosts a paper recycling bin) have been discussed. Both locations would eliminate the “eyesore” potential for the site but that could also lead to a lack of visibility for potential users of the service.
With ten restaurants in the city’s downtown, the potential savings for restaurants could be significant. Glass recycling, for instance, would reduce the amount of space in trash bins. In that regard, to be most effective from a practical standpoint, a centralized location in the downtown would make the most sense.
That position was held by downtown employee Bill Cook, who helped initiate the recycling issue. He said that the decision by CLARB to not approve the location was, “Regrettable, but it is what it is and let’s see if we can go around it.”
The matter was not listed as an action item on the agenda at the upcoming May 17 regular meeting of the Board of Aldermen.