GUILFORD -- Town officials are standing their ground on the recent removal of Guilford's public recycling facilities, again citing the bins' uncertain future due to a wide-reaching new state waste law.
The green recycling bins disappeared from a parking lot in Algiers Village as of July 1, and one resident this week labeled that development "bad, sad and disturbing."
"I would like to suggest that every effort be made to find a location in Guilford for recycling bins and that we get bins back as soon as possible," resident Michael Hanish told Selectboard members.
The board held firm on its decision to not seek a new site for the bins, though officials left open the possibility that recycling facilities could return at some point.
"It's not our intention in any way to undermine people's recycling efforts," Selectboard member Anne Rider said. "We're just in a tough spot here."
That "tough spot" is due in part to the fact that Friends of Algiers Village Inc., which owns the property where Guilford Country Store operates, earlier this year decided that the store's parking lot no longer was a suitable site for recycling bins.
Windham Solid Waste Management District owns those bins, but the town had been paying $1,200 annually to Friends of Algiers to lease a spot for the containers.
Friends of Algiers said the recycling center created a safety hazard and had taken up important parking spaces at the busy country store, which reopened last summer. Also, illegal dumping and loose debris were cited as concerns.
The town's lease on that property ended June 30, and the Selectboard declined to relocate the bins, citing Act 148. That's Vermont's new waste-management law, and, over the next several years, it phases in mandates aimed at boosting the state's recycling rates.
One provision requires that, as of next year, any hauler who picks up trash also must collect recyclables. Also, the law says all trash facilities will be required to accept recyclables.
Those pending changes have prompted Windham Solid Waste officials to wonder whether the public roll-off recycling bins will be necessary.
"We don't know at this point whether the bins are still going to be in use throughout the county or not," Guilford Selectboard Chairman Dick Clark said.
That's why Guilford officials were not willing to invest time and money in finding a new site for recycling bins. If Windham Solid Waste eventually decides to keep using those bins, "we definitely will have to find a place for them," Clark said.
Hanish said he appreciated the Selectboard's "clarity and candor" on the issue. Nonetheless, he disagreed with the board's decision.
"I find it a bad, sad and disturbing signal to send that Guilford has no possibilities for recycling," he told the board.
Officials have pointed out that Guilford residents can use recycling bins near Brattleboro Union High School, just a few miles up Route 5. But Hanish argued that "those are often very full, and they're likely to get even more full."
He also worries that cutting off easy access to recycling will lead to more illegal dumping.
"The farther away and the more difficult it is to get stuff to the recycling bins, the more likely people are to dump it on the side of the road," Hanish said.
He suggested that officials examine other places -- for example, the school, fire station, town office or grange -- that might host recycling facilities.
"While I understand that siting the bins is a concern and an issue, I think it's a solvable issue," Hanish said.
Selectboard members said several alternate sites have been ruled out, including the old town garage and fire station. Placing bins at the fire department would be "problematic because of their need for parking, and they need to keep their space clear," Rider said.
She also voiced concerns about any recycling project that would cost the town more money.
"Our (tax) rate is one of the highest in the state ... even little things, it's hard to think about adding," Rider said.
Hanish said he would review Act 148 and try to come up with suggestions. Rider said the Selectboard welcomes ideas, and she also suggested that residents could lobby for changes in Act 148 if they so choose.
"One thing you could consider doing is talking to a legislator about this law," Rider said. "If it weren't for this law, there would be no question -- we would have re-sited (the recycling bins) already."
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.