Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 3, 2013

Group's destination is reclamation

Group calls for recycling supercenter at Town Yard

By Dustin Luca
Staff Writer

---- — A group of residents is calling for a recycling supercenter to be part of a new Town Yard.

As officials continue to plan for relocating or rebuilding the town’s municipal service facility, the Andover Recycling Committee is pitching a plan to have a recycling drop-off space built into the plan.

The vision itself isn’t complete – the size and scale of the center is still fluid – but what the committee wants to create is a single, known place for residents to bring all materials for recycling.

“We’re going to build a new Town Yard one way or the other, and we’re going to spend X millions of dollars,” said Keith Saxon, committee chairman. “This can be incorporated for an extra zero dollars, or a marginal increase.”

The proposal from the committee comes in three levels: basic, silver, and gold. Under their basic proposal, a drop-off area would accept “single stream” recycling — all recyclable cans, cardboard and plastic bottles. Flourescent lightbulbs, CRT monitors or televisions and scrap metal could also be included.

Under the silver plan, the committee says some special wastes and bulky materials could also be accepted. Under the gold plan, wood wastes, public works materials and a community “Reuse It/Swap Shop” could also be included.

Even a single container accepting both soda bottles and soup cans would be an improvement on what exists in Andover, according to Saxon.

As it stands, most of the town has an established collection system that runs every two weeks.

“If, for whatever reason, you miss it, you have a month of recycling (at your home)” Saxon said. “If you had a Town Yard with a place for recycling? Boom. Now you have a place to recycle.”

Several communities already have such systems in place, according to Saxon. He used Needham as an example of a town with an entire space dedicated to recycling.

“They don’t have curbside, so they have to bring it,” he said. “Needham has the highest recycling (rate) in the state.

“The easier we make recycling, the easier that it is for people to do it,” he said.

As selectmen continue to develop a plan for replacing the Town Yard, officials are saying a recycling drop-off space would be a great idea. However, it is not part of the current discussion because the space studies conducted for the town weren’t tailored to include such a drop-off area.

“Right now, it’s not part of the space planning. It wasn’t part of that,” acting Plant and Facilities Director Maria Maggio said. “I don’t think it’s too late. I think that’s a great idea, actually.”

Sandy Gerraughty, business manager for the Department of Public Works, also said it “would be wonderful if we had a recycling facility or some sort of drop-off.”

“What that would look like would depend on the overall aspect of the Town Yard,” she said. “How much land is available would really determine what kind of a facility would go in there.”

Chris Cronin, acting DPW director said that with a big enough Town Yard site, “it will be part of my agenda to seriously consider a recycling aspect to this.”

“There’s a great demand for it in town, and it’s something that should be included,” Cronin said. “I think it would be very popular. We have a group of people who strongly support it now. Even better than that, the program is almost guaranteed to grow.”

The only other question at that point would be how to run it. Do you hire staff to watch it and keep an eye out for vandalism?

Saxon says that wouldn’t be necessary with volunteers. Better yet, he suggests it could be staffed by community groups.

With groups like Andover Youth Services or, the Andover Vocal Music Association manning the drop-off space, “they get the proceeds. In Needham, they fight over it,” Saxon said. “In this economy, people can’t give $50, but they might say, ‘Hey, I can give $5 in cans.’”

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For more on this story or story-related inquiries, email dluca@andovertownsman.com.