Let’s Talk Trash

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Written by Richard Traczyk

On February 3, 2020
No Dumping

There has been a great deal of talk about the Lake Holiday trash compactor. Here, I will try to address the issues brought up on social media and in emails over the last few weeks.

LH’s waste management contractor is Republic Services. We pay a monthly fee to rent their equipment and have Republic manage our waste stream.  Besides the closed compactor unit, there are currently two open dumpsters; one at the Clubhouse and one at the compactor site for yard waste. The compactor is emptied every Monday and Friday. The two open units are normally emptied once weekly or even less, depending on need and time of the year.

Each community household contributes $12 per month for the trash amenity.  The fee is part of the annual homeowner’s assessment and a line item on the annual budget. Lot owners, both utility and non-utility, do not have access to the trash facility and pay nothing toward the trash services.

The contract with Republic is for three years and is automatically renewed unless given a 90-day notice. Obtaining bids from other reputable companies has not been successful. Reasons cited were distance to the county landfill, traveling on I-81 and Rt. 522, and disposal issues that would drive the cost to unreasonable rates.

The current contract is being renewed for another three years with a number of changes to the billing practices. A fixed yearly rate and a maximum 10% increase in subsequent years will go into effect, giving us better budget forecasting. House-to-house pick-up is not an option as it was determined trucks are too big for our road system, the morning noise of picking up and dumping would be an issue, as would litter, and containers would possibly be left unattended on the roads for periods of time due to such reasons as renters leaving or folks going on vacation. Republic was not interested in house-to-house pick-up.

A numbers check, based upon Republic’s computer records over the years, indicates the compactor has rarely been full at time of pick-up. Our community has been tossing between five and seven tons of trash into the compactor per pull. The Christmas holiday load was measured at ten tons.

During a random check stop, if Republic is caught with over the county road eight-ton load limit in weight, they are fined $15,000, which is passed along to LH. I have asked for, and Republic has agreed, to install a gauge on the compactor indicating how full the container actually is. This will give a better indication of the equipment malfunctioning or if it is indeed at capacity. According to the Republic Services representative, the push ram may slide back when material such as cardboard springs back, giving the appearance the compactor is full.

I asked about a second compactor. Since there is no more room at the current site, another location would need to be found and design work completed in compliance with county standards, all of which would be a substantial expense to our homeowners. The increase in community build-out did not seem to make a substantial difference in total volume according to the computer weight records from the landfill. It might make far more sense to consider adding a day to the pick-up schedule.

Three years ago, the annual cost of LH trash operation was $85,000.  It now costs $120,000 per year. (This could possibly double for a second compactor installation, again increasing assessments.)  The County Convenience Center on Rt. 522 is minutes away and is a service for which we all pay as part of our tax bill.

The open containers seem to be a seasonal matter with the Clubhouse container having the least issues. At the compactor site, the open container fills up in the fall with leaves and branches and in the spring with yard waste. Several have expressed concern about the steep steps to climb in order to throw in yard waste. Our General Manager is looking at options. Digging out a trench to lower the container to allow the truck clear access to pull the container would require substantial cost.

Recycling is not an option here at LH and will no longer be considered. Since China has stopped taking recyclables, the program has become a financial disaster throughout the country.  Recycling centers are closing or stockpiling material.  Republic Services notes that even cardboard disposal is a problem driving it to Hagerstown, MD. The cost to Republic of a pick-up and transport to the recycling center is $360 plus a recycling cost of $25 a ton. 

Lake Holiday residents can run the compactor, but it has been an ongoing problem with improper operation, with doors not latched properly, and with buttons pushed and pulled incorrectly. It was decided years ago to operate under this current method rather than hiring a maintenance person as they do at the County Convenience sites.

We experience ongoing illegal dumpling of items left on the ground inside the compactor enclosure, resulting in citations. 31 citations were issued over the Christmas holidays. The surveillance equipment works quite well in identifying the guilty parties, both by capturing car license plates and providing visual identifications.

To summarize:

  • A newly negotiated contract with Republic starts in February 2019 with favorable pricing.
  • Maintenance will attempt to determine the capacity of the compactor with new monitoring equipment. 
  • Additional pick-ups during holiday weeks will be considered. 

GM Mike Goodwin is looking at options for the steep steps to the open dumpster. I hope this information answers some of the concerns expressed and gives a clearer picture of what the Board is dealing with concerning the trash. I am always available to answer questions. Feel free to contact our administrative staff or me.

Richard, Traczyk, LHCC President

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