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Council votes to reopen McGill convenience site

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Kershaw Country Club Road site to open one day a week

By Chris Sardelli

When Ken Faulkenberry takes a walk through the woods, the last things he wants to see are piles of garbage bags, cast-off refrigerators or mounds of worn tires.

But as county officials consider reducing the number of convenience sites throughout the county, those are exactly the types of items Faulkenberry predicts will soon pop up along county roadsides.

Speaking at Lancaster County Council’s meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, he urged council members to use caution as they move forward.

“I walk in the woods every week. I hope we don’t get to the point with convenience sites where people start throwing their trash back in the woods,” Faulkenberry said. “We all go to the convenience store. It’s not cheap, but we shop there because it’s convenient. If we don’t make it convenient for people to dispose of their trash, tires or televisions, it will end up in the woods.”

Recalling counties he’s visited where every tract of land was littered with trash, Faulkenberry urged council to be careful as it limits hours or closes convenience sites.

“Let’s not do it at the cost of the beautification of the county,” he said. “I can promise you if you do that, we’ll see it (trash). I hope you’ll be careful when you start messing with convenience sites.”

The conversation came as Councilman Jack Estridge urged council to consider reopening its McGill convenience site, which council voted to close last fall and officially shut down Feb. 1.

Located in the southern end of the county along Kershaw Country Club Road, the convenience site is used by nearby residents to dispose of various types of trash and recyclable materials.

Despite the request, County Administrator Steve Willis stood by his initial recommendation.

“Staff still recommends closing the site. It has the lowest volume and there’s an inequity with having four sites in one council district and none in another,” Willis said.

Willis referenced the fact that District 6 has four convenience sites, while District 7 in the Panhandle has none. He said other districts have either one and two sites each.

“This basically means we have no sites for 11,000 people in the panhandle, granted, many have curbside pickup for which they pay extra, and the other districts have sites for either every 11,000 residents or 5,500 residents,” Willis told council.

He said in District 6, the county is paying for convenience sites for every 2,750 residents.

‘TVs and typewriters’

Estridge said the convenience site remains a critical need for residents in his district.

“These sites are for the people,” Estridge said. “People are scattered about in my district, but we shouldn’t punish citizens in that area.”

Shutting down a convenience site would, in essence, be inconvenient for his constituents, Estridge said. He proposed opening the site for just one day each week.

“I don’t think someone would mind riding extra (miles) every 10 years to dump a TV or a typewriter, but if we don’t leave this open, people will start doing what they did 20 years ago,” he said about past problems with illegal dumping of trash.

Councilman Bob Bundy said it was apparent that county convenience sites help with trash problems.

“If you look at the county line, you can see that trash starts at the Chesterfield County line,” Bundy said. “Our convenience center guys are good about noticing where you’re from. It’s a valuable service in our area.”

Councilman Larry Honeycutt added that senior citizens with disabilities will be the hardest hit by such a closure.

“Several people called me who have walkers. Our senior citizens deserve just a little bit better than that,” Honeycutt said.

Estridge pleaded with council not to close the site completely.

“Just because they live in the rural area, shouldn’t they have the same opportunity to throw away their trash?” Estridge asked.

Willis reminded council about the site’s low usage, which has ranked as the county’s lowest tonnage across all of the sites.

“There have been days when only three cars showed up,” Willis said.

Councilwoman Charlene McGriff said the small numbers don’t reflect the need of some residents.

“But that may be three senior citizens who need to not have it shut down,” McGriff said.

Willis again recommended closing the site, citing potential hikes in solid waste costs during the next fiscal year due to a slew of new federal mandates.

“I’m not trying to be coldhearted, but in next year’s budget there will be an increase in solid waste costs,” Willis said.

While no formal long-term plan for convenience sites has been approved by council, Willis said county staff is working on a plan to establish three major convenience sites in the county.

“The plan is if we have three large sites, then every place in Lancaster County can be within 10 miles of them,” he said.

Despite the usage statistics, Honeycutt motioned to leave the McGill site open for household garbage one day a week on normal hours until further notice. Council then unanimously approved the motion.

The specific day the site would be open was not discussed during the meeting.

 

 Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416