Should the Haines Borough take over solid waste management? A working group backed away from making a conclusion about that question at its latest meeting. Instead, members refocused their attention on what the problem is with the current system.
At a meeting in May, the Solid Waste Working Group looked like they were almost ready to make a recommendation to the assembly.
The group was leaning toward exploring the borough taking over solid waste management.
Right now, the privately-owned Community Waste Solutions is the only garbage disposal option in town.
But instead of moving forward with a recommendation, the group took a step back. They focused on defining the problem the borough’s facing when it comes to trash.
Public Facilities Director Brad Ryan said the fact that there is a problem is undeniable.
“It’s expensive for some people, it’s inconvenient for other people, and then visitors are like ‘what there’s one – I don’t want to use the word pathetic – or two little bear canisters you put your trash in?’ It just seems like there’s a real problem here,” said Ryan.
Burl Sheldon said he wants to see the issues laid out.
“I’d like for this committee to ask what is wrong,” said Sheldon. “What is wrong, and identify and have some agreement on specific – what are the needs that the community has and what is the vision that it has for an improved – a new day, something in the future.”
They drew up a list of problems with the current waste management system. They include illegal dumping, cost, and a lack of a universal, borough-wide system. They also talked about the borough having insufficient hazardous waste disposal, not having a backup to CWS, and inefficiencies in the current system.
Sheldon said he wants a report on the condition of the landfill from someone other than CWS.
“What is a problem is: what is the condition of the landfill? What is a objective, qualified opinion of the condition of the landfill,” said Sheldon.
Sally Garton, who represents CWS on the waste group, has said at previous meetings that the landfill is at less than half its capacity.
Borough Manager Debra Schnabel said the group should consider all of these issues, and try to come up with a solution that addresses most of them.
“I’d just like to recommend that you really, I mean, think about all of these things all in one big basket and ask yourself, if these are our problems, what’s the best way to address the majority of them at least,” said Schnabel. “What’s a systematic way of approaching a resolution to this?”
She said they should consider what infrastructure the borough needs.
“What facilities do we need in this community in order to take care of the garbage that we want to take care of? We need a recycling center, we need a landfill, we need a place to take care of the sludge,” said Schnabel.
The waste group did not draft a recommendation to the assembly as they planned at their previous meeting.
The group recently lost its chair, Margaret Friedenauer, who resigned from the assembly. She was one member who advocated for the possibility of borough solid waste management.
At their next meeting, the group will hear from a DEC representative about the condition of the landfill. That will take place June 20 at 4 p.m.