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Task force seeks ways to recycle recycling program

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of the newly formed Kanawha County Recycling Task Force agree that waste is valuable, not just trash.

They want to figure out a plan for the county's recycling center to start making money again.

The Slack Street Recycling Center in Charleston is losing up to $30,000 a month since the Solid Waste Authority's governing board voted to shut down the dilapidated facility in March.

Kanawha County Recycling Task Force members met for the first time Wednesday to discuss the Resilient Waste Network, a written business plan that the group will create to look for a solution for the county's recycling center.

The 14-member team set a 60-day goal to develop the business plan.

"By mid-November we'd like to say where we think waste management will be," said Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy.

Hardy asked the Charleston Area Alliance last month to work with county officials on a plan to save the county's troubled recycling program.

The Slack Street facility shut down because of safety issues with the building where materials were sorted and baled. Repair estimates for the 100-year-old facility came to about $1.5 million.

Solid waste officials have since reopened the building as a drop-off point for fewer materials and with reduced hours. The inability to sort and bale larger amounts of material has crippled the program's revenue stream. Solid waste officials already have laid off half of the staff at the center.

Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority's director, Norm Steenstra, told officials in July that he would resign Sept. 26. As one of the task force members, Steenstra discussed the authority's history at Wednesday's meeting.

He also talked about its future.

It would cost $3.5 million to build a state-of-the-art building "like we should have," Steenstra told the board. He didn't know if that figure included new equipment costs.

"We found the perfect location at the mouth of Campbells Creek next to the Malden Public Service District," Steenstra said, "and it would've been the site for the future [recycling center] but the board felt the state should give us the land and the state said we should pay for it."

The 10 flatland acres would cost $150,000, he said.

It would cost $250,000 to tear down the Slack Street building, he said. That space has only 1.5 acres and Steenstra said a new facility would need at least 2 acres of flat land.

Another option would be to occupy temporary facilities to "get us back to processing cardboard and paper," he said.

Steenstra said there are three possible options to fund new projects, especially the state-of-the-art building.

One would be to apply for a low-interest loan. The maximum amount the Solid Waste Authority could borrow is $1.2 million, he said.

A second option: the authority could issue bonds.

Finally, the city of Charleston could charge an additional fee that would go toward paying for a new facility or paying off bonds, Steenstra said.

The authority applied for stimulus funds but didn't receive any money, he said.

Task force members will meet every Wednesday until Nov. 12 to discuss the business plan.

Topics range each week from discussing trends in other cities to coming up with multiple solutions to deciding which solution is the final proposal.

Prior to shutting down in March, the Slack Street facility was the largest public recycling center in the state, Steenstra said. The center doubled the amount of recyclables it had from 2000 to 2010, he said.

"I want to see this county move forward on solid waste," Steenstra said. "Any facility we consider needs to be flexible enough to think about things we didn't consider 10 years ago."

Composting food waste and figuring out what to do with electronic waste -- like televisions and computer monitors -- should be considered, he said.

Steenstra said who should run the recycling center, whether it is private, public or a public-private partnership, is still questionable.

The task force will include: Steenstra; a person who sits on the Solid Waste Authority's board of directors; Kevin Coyne of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection; Lois Gillenwater of Pray Construction Co.; Bob Pepper of NGK; Thrasher Engineering Vice President of Business Development and External Affairs Wayne Morgan; CAMC recycling director Joe Tucker; Mark Holstine, the state solid waste director; Tim Gibson of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith; and Deanna Sheets from the city of Charleston; Cullen Naumoff and Mike Aeiker from the Charleston Area Alliance, and John Luoni and Colt Sandoro who work for  Kanawha County.

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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