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Published: Thursday, 5/29/2003

Yard waste setup halted by abuse

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TEMPERANCE - One bad apple may not spoil the whole bunch, but one big deck seems to have soured Bedford Township officials on a program that helped local residents get rid of their yard waste.

Township Supervisor LaMar Frederick has temporarily suspended in Bedford Township a Monroe County program that provided a pair of 40 cubic yard dumpsters in which local residents could recycle their lawn clippings and landscaping debris.

The reason was a constant stream of junk other than grass and small shrubs that was finding its way into the trash bins, costing the township money to clean up the mess left by illegal dumping.

“There was somebody's whole backyard deck in there,” Mr. Frederick said last week, “and a tree so big that our guys spent the whole day cutting it up just to get it down to the proper size.”

The Monroe County Environmental Health Division provides the trash bins in Bedford and at numerous other locations around the county each week as a way to encourage people to compost yard waste as opposed to sending it to landfills or burning it. The bins were located behind the Lion's Club in downtown Temperance.

The bins are expensive - more than $300 to empty each one that's filled up - but are of great benefit to those who use them properly, township officials said.

“It's a great program for the people who use it the way they're supposed to,” said Mary McCarthy, Mr. Frederick's executive assistant, who oversees the yard waste recycling program in Bedford Township. “It was just getting way out of hand, though, the way they were being misused. There were building materials in there, garbage, decking, fencing. We had to pay overtime to [township work crews] for a whole weekend just to clean them up.”

At one point in 2001, Bedford Township officials had considered opening a pilot composting site somewhere in the township to provide a central collection point for grass clippings and other biodegradable yard waste. After studying existing composting programs in Sylvania and Jackson, Mich., and determining that it would cost almost $400,000 to begin, township board members all but abandoned the idea.

Mrs. McCarthy said the township will start up the program again in the fall in time for Bedford's annual rake fest. By then she said officials hope to have a solution to the illegal dumping problem. What that solution might be is not known.

“Other than having it manned 24 hours a day, there's just no way to manage it,” Mrs. McCarthy said.



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