Haines’ newly formed solid waste working group held its inaugural meeting this week. And, they came up with a goal: to create a solid waste management plan for the borough.
“I think the Haines borough has a real solid waste problem,” said public facilities director Brad Ryan is one of the group’s non-voting members. “Having ran cleanups for three years, and seeing, no exaggeration, thousands of pounds of trash come off of the river banks and out of the popular dumping sites, I stopped doing it, consciously stopped trying to raise funding for it because it felt like it wasn’t being managed and we were enabling it to happen at an even higher rate than when I started the cleanup.”
The working group is tackling the question of whether there is a better way for the Haines borough to deal with solid waste. It’s other non-voting member, assembly member Margaret Friedenauer, was appointed as the coordinator. She explained the purpose of the group, as it was established by the assembly.
“This committee is specifically interested in recommendations surrounding borough-wide service and compliance for solid waste, how to pay for it, reducing waste options, recycling and education,” said Friedenauer.
The working group consists of stakeholders from around the community. They took turns explaining what they hope to get out of this process. Diana Lapham holds one of the resident seats.
“I do not want to see the recycling center go by the wayside,” said Lapham. “I want that to be a viable facility out there. Secondly, I need a lot more information as a taxpayer on amount per month, what that encompasses. Where this puts community waste, why. Community waste is a private entity and I guess my first question is why is the borough being tasked to do this?”
Jeremy Stephens is also representing the public.
“I need some information as to what is driving the need for the solid waste borough wide services and funding,” said Stephens. “What happened to the 2000 solid waste management plan. Is that still in effect? What happened there. That type of stuff – how did we get here and then I can start talking about where we’re going to go.”
Sally Garton is the general manager of Community Waste Solutions. That’s the privately-owned company where many residents dispose of trash and recycling and they pay-per-load.
“My whole thought of the group working together was to collaborate and come up with a joint decision on how this is best going to be handled with everyone involved. Not toward any one particular person or group,” said Garton.
Haines Friends of Recycling is a non-profit recycling option in town. Melissa Aronson is the board chair.
“One of the concerns I heard expressed is the problems with illegal dumping,” said Aronson. “In particular along the highway and out the various roads. So we might want to look at what can be done about that if anything.”
Reilly Kosinski represents the Chamber of Commerce on the committee. He’s also the board treasurer for Friends of Recycling. He said he’s been to different communities around the state and a lot of them have solid waste management plans.
“Does Haines have a solid waste management plan?” asked Kosinski. “That would be a good way to formalize the town’s vision. What’s happening now. And how they want to see things go in the future.”
The group agreed that is the right direction to move in.
“What I’m hearing from everyone and probably including myself without realizing it, is we need a solid waste management plan that can be implemented and enforced,” said Lapham.
Now, to start working toward that goal, their strategy is to review plans from other communities, state and borough laws, and a Haines solid waste management plan from 2000. They’ll also look at a draft ordinance and survey from the commerce committee, when they looked at this issue in 2014.
Once the solid waste working group completes their work, they’ll send what they have on to the commerce committee, and it will eventually go to the assembly for review.