Hinesburg residents eager for waste district to reopen drop-off center

By JOEY WALDINGER

As Chittenden County’s municipal waste agency prepares to resurrect a drop-off center in Hinesburg, officials met Tuesday night with residents to get feedback on what services townspeople most want from the drop-off.

The Chittenden County Solid Waste District operates trash and recycling collection centers and other waste services county-wide. The district a year ago closed its drop-off at the Hinesburg town garage on Beecher Hill Road when the town started a project to build a new garage on the site.

Now that the garage is completed, townspeople are eager to see the trash and recycling facility resume its Saturday service.

The waste district’s budget can include some service and officials visited Hinesburg Tuesday night to discuss options. The district’s Marketing and Communications Manager Jonny Finity said there are tentative plans to begin construction early next summer and the district’s board hopes to discuss details next month.

The waste district is eager for community input on the services the new center should offer. For example, officials have said they would consider including the collection of materials that were not accepted at the previous drop-off center.

However, many residents said they simply want the district to resume operations as they were before the drop-off closed.

That is a request the district said it may not be able to fulfill.

“I know people just want what they had before, that may not be possible… in this space,” Finity said Tuesday night, asking those in attendance, “If we are not able to provide all those same services, then what is most important to you?”

With the new town garage in place, the site has about a third of an acre for the waste district to use compared to the half-acre before the garage was rebuilt, said Brian Wright, the district’s Director of Engineering and Waste Services. Installing all the equipment housed in the old collection site — and therefore offering the same variety of services — into such a small area would be unwise, he said.

Wright explained that space has to be maintained for access to containers and for trucks to pass through. In addition to creating unsafe conditions, Wright said squeezing such equipment into such a small space can also back up traffic, a common problem at drop-off centers.

“We’ve got to decide what we can fit on this site, how we can make this site work, what we can work out in a safe way with the space we have,” he said. “We’re going to work with what we have.”

After nearly a year without an in-town spot for trash and recycling, residents and town officials are eager for the district to resume service in Hinesburg. However, the district is not legally bound to operate any collection centers. Education is its only legal obligation, said Michele Morris, a district spokeswoman.

“We hear every day from Hinesburg residents that they want service back in Hinesburg,” said Hinesburg Development Review Coordinator Mitch Cypes. “Nothing would make us happier than to expedite this process and re-open Hinesburg as quickly as possible, if not just to lessen the flow of emails I get.”

Like many other residents, Ken Brown said he was frustrated by the waste district’s decision to discontinue its services during the town garage construction.

“There is a lot of anger in the community, and I have a garage full of garbage right now, and I resisted the temptation to bring it to the meeting tonight,” he said. “I encourage you to take that message to the board, and bring a resolution to this problem.”

Despite the variety of drop-off centers that the district operates in the county, Brown said that the convenience of stopping by the center on a Saturday morning — the only day it operated — and the fun of seeing his neighbors while doing so was a big plus.

Though it will be some time before a new Hinesburg collection center is up and running, Brown said he was happy to hear that the waste district is committed to returning. “I look forward to seeing what they come up with,” he said.

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