The Hastings City Council continues to try to find a workable solution to the overuse of the city composting site on West State Road. Meant as a service to city residents, the site is being overwhelmed by materials, much not compostable and an unknown amount being dropped off by non-Hastings residents.
The problem is magnified by expectations that the city will provide the service, and despite publicity, many are generally unaware that the site is for specialized materials, is paid for by the city, and is not a landfill, council members said.
In a wide ranging discussion Monday, ideas from stopping the service to farming it out to a contractor were discussed. No action was taken, but most members favored a recommendation by Department of Public Services Director Lee Hays to close the drop off area with access through a gate for residents only by a code given by city staff. Hays gave five options and preliminary costs for staff and rental of equipment for the city council to consider:
Option 1: Bi-weekly pickup on every other Monday at residents home at a cost of $1,280 a week or $17,920 a year.
Option 2: Monthly pickup on the first Monday at residents home for seven pickups a year for $2,080 a month or $14,560 a year.
Option 3: Residents drop materials behind DPS garage
for six man hours a week for $600 a week or $18,480 a year.
Option 4: Additional gates and secured access at site with staff providing weekly code. With materials, labor, equipment rental, and power to the site, $7,200 total cost
Option 5: Staff the site every other Saturday and continue the existing practice for four man hours for 14 Saturdays a year for $540 a Saturday or $7,560 a year.
City Manager Jeff Mansfield will get more definite cost figures on the options and information on contracting for the service and bring it back to the council.
Hayes recommended option 4, saying it is the only option that will control the unauthorized dumping. Hastings residents would come in or call city hall during normal business hours, provide proof of residency and be given the security code, which would be changed every week.//
He said the use by non-residents, the site being open during day for access by city employees and the site being somewhat screened from the road are parts of the problem and no matter which option is chosen, the existing drop-off area should be gated to prevent unauthorized dumping throughout the day.
In a memo to the council, Hays said they have a proposal to process the existing on site material for $30,000 to run the materials through a tub grinder to make wood chip (mulch) sized particles, then put the materials in rows and begin the composting process.
It will take five to 10 years to decompose to become viable compost material and be removed from the site. With the rate the material coming into the site, they will have issues processing all of the material into compost and maintaining compliance with the DEQ permit guidelines, he said.