By MADELINE HUGHES
It’s been a year since the trash and recycling drop-off closed at the Hinesburg town garage for a new garage to be built and townspeople are eagerly awaiting news of whether and when they may have their local waste collection spot back.
The new town garage opened its doors late this summer. Many are asking if the trash and recycling center will reopen on the site again anytime soon.
“The overall message we have been hearing is that people just want what they had back,” said Renae Marshall, Hinesburg town administrator.
In late September, the town sent out a letter to residents soliciting feedback because Marshall and the Selectboard wanted to gather public comments to inform the Chittenden Solid Waste District, which ran the drop-off.
The next step in that process will be a public forum by the waste district for Hinesburg residents and others who use the waste facility on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. at Hinesburg Town Hall.
District officials will also use the opportunity to discuss their overall strategic plans.
“It was our hope a year ago as the garage was being built that the drop-off center would directly integrate into the design and we wouldn’t have lost service either,” said Selectboard Chair Phil Pouech at the Oct. 1 board meeting.
Previously the garage was used as a waste drop-off for the waste district on Saturdays. It was a smaller-scale collection point for trash and recycling that some of the other locations in the district because of the site’s size, but it was convenient for Hinesburg and Charlotte residents.
When planning the garage renovation, the town worked with the waste district with the hope that service would continue through construction.
However, the waste district decided to close the drop-off last October when garage renovations were beginning and has not resumed since.
The town received 26 written responses to the letters seeking comment as well as other comments in person.
“It’s the number-one thing people ask about,” board member Tom Ayer said. Other board members agreed it was one of the top questions on people’s minds.
Marshall said people liked the spot’s location and came from not only but often from nearby Charlotte and Huntington. Marshall has heard from people in all of those places saying they’re eager to see it reopened, she said.
In considering if and when it might resume service in Hinesburg, the waste district will take public comments and its overall planning into account, explained Johnny Finnity, the district’s marketing and communications director.
At minimum, drop-off sites collect four main materials – trash, blue-bin zero-sort recycling, food scraps and leaf recycling. Other items collected such as batteries, motor oil and propane tanks are done at more central locations.
The district board’s overall goal is to make trash disposal and recycling more accessible for all residents across Chittenden County. Having collection points in convenient locations is important.
“Dumping waste is against the law,” Finnity said. “Our board has made it clear drop-offs are not required by the district’s charter, but it is important to operate those facilities.
“The board has expressed a strong interest for reopening the facility,” he said. “Any town that wants a drop-off center, we work with them to get it.”
Based on feedback so far, Finnity said it’s possible that the district could get plans in motion to reopen in Hinesburg as soon as spring or summer 2019.
The Selectboard approved a traffic ordinance for the town that does not change any of the posted speed limits around town. The ordinance had not been updated in some time, so the town could not collect money from tickets issued for violating town traffic laws.
The change will ensure, “Hinesburg receives ticket money, not the state,” police officer Anthony Cambridge said.
However, he added that the department is looking to further update the ordinance, based on traffic patterns in town.
One resident spoke up to call for attention to Richmond Road. “Richmond Road is a racetrack,” said Ray Nails. “Richmond Road is a public safety issue the Selectboard has to address.”
The speed limit for the road is 35 mph, and 25 mph on the curves, Cambridge said, acknowledging that the curves are not clearly marked. The ordinance includes the speed limits, and the town could choose to mark the curves, Cambridge suggested.
Nails said more was needed than just better signs. He wants a sidewalk. A million-dollar project was put on the back burner two years ago after studying possible sidewalks along that road. The price tag was considered high at the time.
Thanking the Selectboard for their fiscal mindfulness, Nails said, he still would like to see this project move forward. “If this is one thing I could pay for out of my pocket I would,” he said.
The Selectboard agreed to continue looking into solutions and to consult the Chittenden Regional Planning Commission for advice on the project as well.