Thursday, April 3, 2008

On Recycling in Westbrook

Recycling--or more accurately, the lack of recycling in Westbrook--is creeping closer to becoming a big issue in city politics. Again.

Michael Miles, a Wesbrook resident and a member of the Recycling Task Force, penned a column in the March 20 American Journal that begged the city's solons to implement a program that improved Westbrook's recycling rate, which was last reported to be 8 percent. And this week, the Committee of the Whole, a committee of the City Council, requested the folks at 2 York Street to look into this issue (apparently this report drafted in February 2007 by the Ad Hoc Committee on Solid Waste and Recycling wasn't good enough for them) again and get back to them.

Considering even the most mealy-mouthed among us can declare Westbrook's recycling rate to be relatively pathetic (most of our neighbors have recycling rates in the 30-40% range), here are the current positions of City Councilors and the Mayor, as best as I can tell:

Mayor Bruce Chuluda
In an e-mail, Mayor Chuluda wrote: "I firmly believe that since we are still in the infancy of recycling in the city that a pay per bag program is the way to bring about the required change of habits to the user base." Moreover, BruChu vetoed a $250,000 expenditure that would've instituted curbside recycling without a pay-per-bag system. In short, in favor of pay-per-bag, but very much against using substantial city funds to institute a new system.

City Councilor Brendan Rielly (D-Ward 1)
Prefers an automated curbside pick-up system. As for his opinion on the pay-per-bag program: "I hate pay per bag. I think it's the worst of all possible choices."

City Councilor Drew Gattine (D-Ward 2)
Did not return an e-mail asking his position or generate quotes interesting enough for the American Journal to print.

City Councilor Dotty Aube (D-Ward 4)
See City Councilor Drew Gattine, (above)

City Councilor Suzanne Joyce (D-Ward 5)
See City Councilor Dotty Aube (above)

City Councilor Michael Foley (D-At Large)
In an e-mail, Councilor Foley wrote: "I am in favor of the automated trash program like in Scarborough & Saco."

City Councilor John O'Hara (R-At Large)
Apparently calls himself a "pay-per-bag guy." So, yeah, I'd say he prefers a pay-per-bag system.

Finally, for what it's worth, this taxpayer and generator of trash (now that would make a good tombstone epigraph) prefers a pay-per-bag system.

- John C.L. Morgan


Anonymous said...

Word. I'm pretty much with you on this - I live right over the Falmouth line in Westbrook (Westbrook Foreside?) and its amazing how many more bags of trash we Westbrookers tend to have out at the road in comparison to the 1 or 2 yellow Falmouth bags per house I see on the other side of the line. At the same time however, without school-aged kids, without City-provided sewer, with no sidewalks, and with my library preference being for the private one, I think I currently pay more than enough taxes to have both recycling and "free" trash pickup...with that being said, however, I'd gladly drop a buck per bag if it would increase our City's obscenely low recycling rate.

Anyway - I just came across your blog via psst - good work.


I am happy that there are other people doing something about encouraging recycling in Westbrook! The system as is is atrocious!!! The city has to do something about it! I am sure the automated system would be easier on the voters (hi to city councilors here) but will not discourage making more trash than reasonable.
A bit of promotion here, unaware of this blog, I started mine. Let's talk!