By Julie Ann Madden
Westfield city officials removing a large recycling dumpster from its site next to the Westfield Post Office has rural residents and Plymouth County supervisors upset.
The action brought Plymouth County Supervisor Mark Loutsch to Westfield Nov. 12 to try to resolve the matter.
Oct. 8 meeting
The large recycling dumpster was removed for several reasons, Westfield Mayor Bill Hummel explained at the Oct. 8 council meeting.
First, Westfield residents have individual recycling containers at their households. Therefore, people using the large recycling dumpster were from out-of-town, said Bill Hummel.
Second, the large recycling dumpster was costing Westfield residents more than it saved in recycling credits, he explained. It was costing the city $45 a load when Van’s Sanitation of Le Mars emptied it, but the city received only a $10 credit on recycling costs.
When city officials decided not to continue paying for this dumpster, county officials didn’t pick up the cost to have it available for rural residents to continue using. Therefore, Van’s Sanitation wouldn’t empty it. Finally, Bill Hummel instructed Van’s Sanitation officials to pick up the recyclables one final time at the city’s expense and city officials removed the dumpster.
“It was never intended for rural residents’ use,” said Bill Hummel who reported he had a conversation with Plymouth County Supervisor Mark Loutsch about having the county pay for the dumpster.
People were also dumping non-recyclables at the site, said Bill Hummel, adding the City of Brunsville had the same issue.
Another issue that came into this issue was the Supervisors’ decision regarding the Westfield Drainage District assessments to Westfield residents, explained Bill Hummel. Town residents are charged $100 per lot while rural residents are assessed per parcel. So a person with 40 acres in a parcel pays $200 while a Westfield resident with eight lots, much less than 40 acres in size, pays $800.
Rural residents who are upset with the loss of the recycling dumpster need to contact the Plymouth County Supervisors, said Bill Hummel.
Nov. 12 meeting
At the Nov. 12 meeting, Bill Hummel told Loutsch, city officials have no intentions of putting the recycling dumpster back.
Loutsch responded Plymouth County cities originally agreed to allow a large dumpster in their towns for rural residents to place their recyclables. Plus, money was allocated for both municipal and rural recycling programs.
“We were also told it wasn’t going to cost us,” said Councilor Tami Hummel.
“We don’t want to pay for the county’s rural dump, said Bill Hummel explaining the financial loss rural recycling was costing the town. “We’re not here to lose money.”
“We’re not going to pay for rural recycling when rural people actually pay a dump fee so the county should pick that up,” said Bill Hummel.
When asked if county officials picked up the cost, could the dumpster be set back out, Hummel said no.
“The recycling dumpster needs to be monitored,” he explained. “People throw fence, appliances — it’s too big so people are able to throw in sheetrock, lumber.”
“The town has their own recycling bins so the only people dumping in that are out-of-town folks,” sand Tami Hummel. “That’s fine except then it’s full and they’re throwing it on the ground…People were using it like a (garbage) dumpster not a recycling bin.”
“If we put it out now (Tuesday), it will be full by the weekend,” said Councilor Don Dion, adding he doesn’t want to be on “pickup detail.”
“It’s an eyesore,” said Councilor Jenny Hartman-Mendoza. “The only people who have approached me about it since it was gone have been rural people. Nobody in town has ever approached me.”
“We’ve done a better job of recycling since we have it at our houses,” said Bill Hummel. “(Westfield residents) are working harder at it this way.”
“Put it on a county property, then the city is not responsible to pay for it or monitor it,” said Tami Hummel.
Loutsch noted other Plymouth County towns had problems with the large recycling bins being used as a garbage dump site. He told Westfield councilors Merrill officials had installed a camera at their site and caught people misusing it. In addition, the City of Kingsley has marked all sides of their bin with “Recycling Only.”
Bill Hummel noted the recycling bin was marked properly.
“We were getting about a ton every time it was picked up,” he told Loutsch, noting it wasn’t only being used by rural Plymouth County residents but Union County, S.D., residents, too.
“I’m really impressed we’re getting a ton at a time,” said Loutsch, explaining that was the most he’d heard of being collected. Other towns were reporting 800 to 1,200 pounds at a time.
“We’ll give it back to you so you can put it somewhere else,” said Hummel.
Councilors suggested placing it at Sunnyside School, one of the township board meeting places or at a county gravel pit or sand pile site.