Stainbrook casts lone vote against

    Despite the lack of a major public outcry, and recent statistics from Public Works Director Pat Kelly that don’t seem to make a strong case for it, the Crookston City Council directed Kelly Monday night to have his crews pick up recycling at curbsides twice a month instead of the current practice of once a month, for a six-month trial period. After that time, in the fall, everyone will go over the recycling numbers and decide whether or not to continue with twice-a-month pick-up, or go back to monthly curbside pick-up.

    Ward 5 Council Member Dale Stainbrook cast the lone vote against at the council’s Ways & Means Committee meeting. The general feeling among other council members who support the policy change is that Crookston residents who fill their blue plastic bins with recyclable materials might be more apt to bring them to the curb twice a month. Some council members suspect that because the bins are small in size and some recyclables aren’t that small, a lot of people are bringing their recyclables to the Polk County Transfer Station in Crookston when they bring their trash there.

    Kelly said his crews will start with the twice-monthly pick-up in May. The first pick-up will remain as it is now, on the first garbage pick-up day of the month. The new, second pick-up will take place on garbage pick-up day during the third week of the month.

    Last month, Ward 6 Council Member Tom Vedbraaten brought up the possibility of increasing the frequency of the City’s curbside recycling pickup. He said he’d heard from a couple residents requesting the change, most notably Eleanor Ogaard, and elderly Crookston resident who said she’s no longer able to drive to the Transfer Station when her blue bins are overflowing in her garage.

    In the weeks since, Kelly said he directed his staff to pick up the bins at curbsides to keep a tally of how many residents are actually bringing their bins to the curb. Kelly said he figured the rate would be around 20 percent of Crookston residents, but, going by last week’s numbers, he said only 178 Crookston homes brought their bins to the curb on their monthly recycling day. That amounts to around 7 or 8 percent, he said. A northeast Crookston route had a high of 68 homes with recyclables on the curb, Kelly said, but another route that covers Sampson’s Addition and the surrounding area had only 13 homes with blue bins on their curbsides.

    Most council members seemed undeterred by the numbers.

    “I think more people would recycle (with the City) if (curbside pick-up) was every two weeks,” Ward 3 Council Member Clayton Briggs said. He made the motion to increase curbside pick-up for six months, and Vedbraaten seconded it.

    Some council members who voted in favor thought that a shorter trial period would be better, but others said people needed time to adjust to the more frequent pick-ups.

    “People need time to hear about it and then let’s see if they recycle more,” Vedbraaten said. “ If it doesn’t work, I don’t think we’re out much.”

The impact

    Kelly’s crews each day do a garbage collection route, but with many residents utilizing the Transfer Station, his crews are typically finished hauling trash by around lunchtime, and that frees them up to perform other Public Works duties in the afternoon.

    Crunching the numbers with City Administrator Shannon Stassen, Kelly estimates that crews will spend an additional 18 hours a month picking up recyclables. That would increase charges to the garbage hauling account by $16,848 a year.