City, Fort Drum consider joint recycling project

Record amounts of cardboard wait to be processed at Jefferson County Recycling Center & Transfer Station in Watertown last year. Kara Dry/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The city is talking to Fort Drum officials about possibly partnering with the municipality’s plan to move to single-stream recycling.

City officials on Monday night decided to continue to look at whether it is feasible to go to single-stream recycling, rather than sorting recyclables in different plastic bins.

The City Council got an update about the long-discussed move to single-stream recycling during a work session on Monday night.

Public Works Superintendent Patrick Keenan said the city has talked to Kirk W. Hauk, head of Fort Drum’s public works operations and former city engineer, on four occasions about possibly pursuing a joint venture recycling project.

Fort Drum is looking at constructing a new recycling transfer facility, while the city would need the same kind of facility to take recycling if it goes to single-stream.

Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith, who has supported going to single-stream recycling for years, was joined by council members Sarah V. Compo Pierce and Ryan Henry-Wilkinson in support of continuing the talks with Fort Drum.

Councilwoman Lisa A. Ruggiero also seemed to support the idea of single-stream, but only if an agreement can be worked out with Fort Drum.

“I’m not quite there yet,” she said.

Councilman Leonard G. Spaziani continues to oppose the plan because of its cost. He also expressed concerns about the volatility of the recycling market.

“What’s the big rush?” he said.

The city would need to purchase three trucks for the single-stream plan to work, Mr. Keenan said. When the proposal was discussed during budget deliberations last spring, the city needed to purchase one truck and make a $1.275 million capital investment.

But the capital investment would now cost $2.085 million, Mr. Keenan said.

If a deal could be worked out with Fort Drum, the $2 million investment could be paid with a federal grant, he said. Plans call for the city to apply for the same Department of Defense grant that it just submitted for a proposed amphitheater in Thompson Park to pay those capital costs, City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said.

While talks will continue with Mr. Hauk, Mr. Keenan also will meet on Wednesday with representatives of Recycle America, the company that handles Fort Drum’s recyclable materials, to see if the city’s recyclables could be taken to its Liverpool facility.

Fort Drum is talking about constructing the recycling transfer facility off post. A possible site could be the city’s old landfill, Mr. Keenan said.

The city also had some preliminary talks with the Development Authority of the North Country about working with DANC on single-stream. DANC is conducting a feasibility study to build a large single-stream recycling facility that would serve Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

The status of the DANC study was unclear Monday night.

Mayor Smith has said he thinks that single-stream recycling is better for the environment because it will increase recycling and save on the life of the landfill, be more convenient for users and more efficient for public works employees.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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