GUILFORD -- In less than a week, Guilford's recycling center will disappear.
With a lease for the big green bins' current home expiring on June 30, town officials have decided to not seek a new site for recycling. Instead, Windham Solid Waste Management District is expected to remove the bins from the parking lot of Guilford Country Store.
Two factors are driving the decision: There is the difficulty of finding a different property for recycling, along with the uncertain future of such bins due to pending changes in state law.
"We felt that it wasn't in our best interest to invest the time, the energy and possibly the money in re-siting them if we don't know whether they're going to be there just for a year," Selectboard member Anne Rider said.
Brattleboro-based Windham Solid Waste owns and empties the recycling roll-off bins, but the town of Guilford has been paying $1,200 annually to lease a corner of the Guilford Country Store parking lot where they are situated. The non-profit Friends of Algiers Village Inc. owns that property.
The recycling center's location wasn't much of an issue when Guilford Country Store was closed. But since the store reopened nearly a year ago, there have been concerns about traffic flow, safety and also illegal dumping at the site.
In April, Friends of Algiers Village notified the Selectboard that the recycling-center lease would not be renewed at the end of the fiscal year. At the time, Gary Swindler, the organization's president, wrote that the bins were a "growing issue.
"They not only interrupt traffic patterns in the parking lot, creating a serious safety hazard for motorists and pedestrians, but they take up what would potentially be five to seven more parking spaces for the growing store business," Swindler wrote.
"In addition," he added, "there is regular dumping and constant loose/blowing debris around them."
At that point, Guilford officials had a few months to try and find a new site for the bins if they were so inclined. But they also were aware of the statewide changes coming under Act 148, Vermont's new waste-management law. The statute incrementally implements new mandates designed to boost the state's recycling rates. One such mandate is that, in 2015, any company that picks up trash curbside also must collect recyclables. Also, the law says all trash facilities will be required to accept recyclables.
Given those changes, Windham Solid Waste is assessing the need for roll-off recycling bins, and the agency will be undertaking a survey of those sites in area towns.
"We'd like to get (the survey) done by August," said Bob Spencer, Windham Solid Waste executive director. "Then, we'll start looking at it this fall. It's part of our budgeting process."
If the district elects to maintain the bins beyond 2015, Guilford officials may revisit the matter.
"If, in the future, (Windham) Solid Waste decides to keep the bins we probably will go back and research it and try to find a place (for recycling)," Selectboard Chairman Dick Clark said. "But as of now, we're not going to spend two or three months looking for a place and (then) have them disappear next year."
Officials have posted notice of the bins' removal on Guilford's website, www.guilfordvt.net. That notice also includes a link to other recycling drop-off locations in the area, including one on Fairground Road in Brattleboro -- a relatively short drive from Algiers.
Spencer said Windham Solid Waste has no issue with residents from one town using recycling bins in another town.
"The message is, any of the drop-off bins are open to everybody," he said.
Clark, however, has concerns that getting rid of the Guilford bins may lead to more illegal dumping.
"I'm afraid that the roadsides are going to start taking a lot more trash and recycling," he said. "Hopefully, that's not true. But it's a fear I have."
Rider expects some backlash against the board's decision. But she also argues that the bins have become problematic.
"I think people are not happy about (losing the recycling bins). I understand that," Rider said. "I also understand that, every time I go by, there is garbage in the field, suitcases, televisions ... you name it, it's out there."
"People are trashing it," she added. "It's frankly a health hazard. It's a pain in the neck."
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.