Mixed paper routine to change; vests in store for ‘pickers’

The separate containers for mixed paper and newsprint at the Recycling Center will disappear this coming Wednesday, replaced by a single collection point and a baling machine to compress and wrap both together and sell it to a paper mill on Staten Island. The Recycling Center’s Brian Sherman told the Town Board at its work session on Tuesday the change would happen overnight, once the new baler arrives.

Mr. Sherman made the announcement during a presentation on several topics, including plans for realigning traffic flow at the Recycling Center. It would be designed to send people with only recyclables to the recycling area and those with garbage and debris for which there is a charge to the weigh scale, he said. He’s also considering relocating the “goody pile,” from which residents may scavenge used items, to a spot closer to Menantic Road so cars parked around the pile do not block traffic flow through the area.

“There were seven cars there Saturday,” he said, so traffic could not “get on the scale.”

Also on Tuesday, the Town Board reviewed rules proposed by its Recycling Committee to regulate “pickers,” who look for salvageable items at the center. The committee has proposed requiring them to check in at the center’s weigh station and fill out a registration form through which they would agree to indemnify the town. Those who do so would be given an informational packet on rules and safety concerns and a bright colored vest or an identification tag.

Mr. Sherman commented that a tag worn from the neck might pose a danger and Councilman Glenn Waddington said a “vest would be an easy thing to slip on.” Supervisor Jim Dougherty told the board the town could order vests easily and that 74 cents was “the latest price.”

Mr. Dougherty said the town was almost ready to implement the policy. “We have 95 percent consensus,” he said, and only a few things were needed to get started. The informational pamphlet to be given to registrants and “consensus on policy” were all that the town needed, he said.

In his presentation, Mr. Sherman also covered the problem of contaminated recyclables, a concern if the town wants to make top dollar when it sends cardboard, plastic, aluminum and mixed paper off to be processed.

He showed a series of recent photographs taken at the Recycling Center of recyclables with garbage carelessly mixed in: a plastic jar filled with rotting tomatoes, a jug that still contained muriatic acid, and a tub that still contained fertilizer and a Drano container with Drano still in it. He said people threw computer discs, old garden hose and plastic tubes that still contained ointments into the recycling bins.

According to Mr. Sherman, the town made $50,000 on recyclables in 2010. He said it earned $200 a ton for boat wrap, which marinas drop off at no charge on Wednesdays and residents may bring in at any time; $90 a ton for cardboard; and $900 for a full container of clean, compressed bales of plastic. The town does not send out glass. It has been grinding glass for many years, using it in a mixture to sand winter roads.

He noted that plate glass and light bulbs were not suitable for grinding because they splinter and leave shards. Glass bottles grind down to smooth granules.

In other news at Tuesday’s work session, the Town Board:

• Moved ahead on its effort to restrict construction in the low-lying causeways along Ram Island Drive, agreeing to vote at this Friday’s regular board meeting to schedule a public hearing for June 10 on proposed regulations that would amend the zoning code. They have been in the works for months and the town has imposed a moratorium on new construction there to allow time for the rules to be drafted. The moratorium expires on July 31.

• Heard Art Bloom report on progress being made in converting a former garage behind Town Hall into a municipal archive center for the town and the Village of Dering Harbor. The work is being funded in part by a state grant and construction work by town employees.

• Discussed the Homan application for a wetlands permit to reinforce the shoreline of their Montclair Avenue property on Menantic Creek. The plan is to install coir logs — absorbant “logs” made if fibrous natural material —  as well as sand fill and natural vegetation to create a soft shoreline protection buffer as opposed to bulkheading. The board agreed to schedule a vote on the application for its meeting on Friday. It will be the first time that coir logs will have been used on the Island.

• Heard Kathy Gooding report on the Taylor’s Island Committee’s progress toward starting renovations on the cabin on the town-owned parkland. The board is expected to vote on a contract allowing the renovations to proceed at its meeting on Friday. A state grant for $110,600 for the work will be matched locally through fundraising and volunteer labor and donated materials.

• Heard Town Attorney Laury Dowd urge the board to move forward with adopting a state-drafted “model” law for requiring anyone building on parcels of an acre or more to prepare a stormwater runoff abatement plan that must be approved by the Building Department. Many cities and towns are required by the state to adopt the law, or one like it. Its aim is to reduce pollution caused by runoff.