By Kevin Kelley
Residents are being asked to complete an online survey inquiring whether they want the city’s trash collection contractor to implement an automated service that uses uniform collection bins.
Under the city’s current five-year contract with Rumpke Consolidated Companies Inc., automated collection of trash and recyclable materials is scheduled to begin in August. However, the city can elect to alter the contract and continue the current collection method.
Westlake Public Services Director Paul Quinn mailed a letter to residents last week explaining the pending switch and requesting that they complete the online survey, which can be accessed on the city’s website, http://www.cityofwestlake.org, through April 20. Not all Westlake residents are serviced by Rumpke, as some apartment and condominium complexes have contracts with other companies.
“The automated trash collection program provides residents with expanded recycling capability that results in a reduction of solid waste deposited in landfills,” Quinn stated in his letter. “By transitioning to an automated collection, most communities see a substantial increase in recycling. This type of program is expected to stabilize collection and disposal costs and it will also make Westlake a much greener community.”
Why wouldn’t Westlake proceed with the move to automated collection?
City Council is concerned about residents’ reaction to and acceptance of the move, Quinn said. Some concerns might be that the standard collection bins, which are on wheels, will be too big for seniors to maneuver, he explained. He added that homeowners can opt for a smaller bin if they desire.
One drawback, Quinn conceded, is that the switch to automated collection will reduce the frequency of collecting bulk items from once a week to once a month.
City officials say a switch to automated collection is not a given. In his report to City Council April 3, Mayor Dennis Clough said data from the survey of residents will be “instrumental” in the city’s decision on the issue.
“We want to hear from as many residents as possible,” the mayor said.
The results of the survey will be presented at a City Council committee meeting on rubbish collection scheduled for 7 p.m. April 23.
Council President Mike Killeen is one of several city officials who have been given the automated bins to try out. He said he’s going into the April 23 meeting with an open mind.
“We’re going to sit back and listen for a while,” he said of the meeting.
Killeen told West Life he is interested not only in interest from residents, but also from the experience other area communities have had in the switch to automated collection.
In recent years, Bay Village, Fairview Park and North Olmsted have all successfully made the transition to automated trash collection. However, in each city, a handful of residents were initially resistant to the change.