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It’s Official: West U Recycling Center Closing

September 27, 2013 By:InstantNewsWestu Staff

Local News

With an expected 4-1 vote, West U City Council Thursday night approved a recommendation to close the city’s recycling center in January of 2014.

Mayor Pro Tem Susan Sample was the lone dissenting vote, with Mayor Bob Fry, Councilman Ed Heathcott, Councilwoman Joan Johnson and Councilman Dick Yehle voting for the closure.

The issue has been a contentious one, but ultimately the decision was made to close the center, with city staff reporting that the center, RecyclExpress, at 5004 Dincan, has been losing between $150,000 to $200,000 per year and that the majority of users were not West U residents.

Several members of the Recycling Board spoke out against the closure at Thursday night’s meeting, including  former chair Jan Kellogg, who recently sent a heated e-mail to Fry asking him to reconsider the closure. Former Mayor Burt Ballanfont also spoke out against the closure.

City Manager Michael Ross told InstantNewsWestU.com that the next step would be to solicit proposals from parties interested in the land, which has been valued at between $5 million and $7 million.

Ross said council will likely receive the “whole gauntlet” of proposals, from short-term leases, long-term leases or simply selling it, though council has not discussed any specific plans for the land. No plans of selling the land have been discussed, and council could decide to keep the property for future city use.

15 Responses to “It’s Official: West U Recycling Center Closing”

  1. E Forster Says:

    Recyclexpress is a credit to West University. It is a well run facility, and those who use it, who I have spoken to when I have been there to drop recycling off or to do a survey, genuinely enjoy going there. Yes, it is used by a wider group than just West University residents, and yes, in West U we are lucky enough to have an excellent curbside recycling program, but Recyclexpress still diverted approximately 2.211 tons of material in 2012 that might otherwise have ended up in landfill. The glass bottles almost definitely would have as City of Houston do not collect those (Glass can be recycled infinitely without losing strength, purity or quality but may never decompose in landfill). In this day and age of increased consumption, recycling should be a no brainer. We should all be doing our bit to minimize our impact on the environment as it doesn’t have boundaries. I am sure that given some thought, Recyclexpress can make money, or at least break even, and I hope that the council will reconsider their very short sighted decision to close the facility, or at the very least, go through a due process to do so.

    • E Forster Says:

      Oops, that should read “…Recyclexpress still diverted approximately 2,211 tons of material….” as in two thousand not two point two.

  2. miltonwatchdog Says:

    Agree with all speaking out here on this decision and how it was pushed through. Looking past the financial loss to the City, the Council members that are selling the changes in the City Charter want to grant unlimited power to the City Manager. Vote AGAINST the changes in our Charter. Do not give another two years to this bunch.

    Now I guess we all stuff our recyclable materials in with our regular trash (which is bound to happen). Next, the wonderful and loyal City employees that collect our trash and recycled stuff will likely have their work hours cut, upon recommendation by City Manager and “Staff” and Council will agree.

    This sucks.

    • Brokelyn Says:

      Hear hear!

      The proposed changes to the City Charter are simply laid out, but not explained. Did the Committee assigned by Council to review the Charter ever publish their recommendations and reasoning for each proposed change?

      Does anyone know how to get the word out about this upcoming vote? This is a SERIOUS change in the Charter and the more I see the more I am upset about how much control this Council s trying to accumulate (to the detriment of the citizens). Does anybody know what the point of longer term limits? Higher vote thresholds for referendums? Lower vote thresholds for Council to repeal an ordinance?

      Most of my neighbors are clueless and wouldn’t know squat about this unless it came wrapped around an expensive bottle of wine.

  3. Charlie E Says:

    Disappointed in this decision and the lack of progressive dialogue about recycling/trash curbside and security. Yes, I know, we’re supposed to break down the boxes and flatten them but how many times do you drive down the street and see boxes at curbside from purchases of new computers, big screen TVs, etc.? Security analysts warn against this as an open sign to those who might desire to burglarize.

    When is the last time the city issued warnings/citations for placing trash at curbside before 6:00 PM the day before pickup (including bagged grass clipping from gardening services who leave it curbside regardless of the day)?

    • Brokelyn Says:

      Charlie E — agreed — people are not doing what they are supposed to do when they put out the recycling. That raises our costs. At the same time, at least they are recycling (through West U’s participation rate is WELL below surrounding and comparable cities).

      On your second point — West U does indeed issue warnings for placing trash/recycling out before **8:00 PM** (not 6:00). I have received one as have some of my neighbors. I haven’t repeated the offense so I don’t know if I will be cited, but it seems pretty straight-forward. Get a warning then get a ticket.

  4. Mrs. G Says:

    Great job city council, you just took the city back about 20 years. I do vote and I cannot wait until the next election.

    • Brokelyn Says:

      Mrs. G — Unfortunately all members of Council are not eligible for re-election (two consecutive term limit) soo we can’t enjoy the pleassure of delivering our message to them.

      That is unless they are successful in their current attempt to extend term limit rules!

  5. Joe Foster Says:

    Foregone conclusion. Council just wanted it to go away, even to ignore the positive aspects. Single stream recycling also removed them from evaluating the benefits of lowering land fill dumpimg fees with out previous sorting of recyclables.

  6. Robert Gartner Says:

    Yeah render up the remaining birds and insects for the almighty real estate value like the city of houston is doing.

  7. Brokelyn Says:

    No Rhonda, this is what representative government is supposed to do. We had time to present our thoughts to Council in meetings and other normal channels. We did vote for these people to represent us, though. Well, something like 10% of West U registered voters actually voted. Folks, this is what you get!

    That said, I’m incredibly disappointed in this decision. I’m especially ticked off that the “losses” keep getting cited as a driving factor. Recycling is a civic activity, not a profit center. Measure its effectiveness in other ways, not in terms of a P&L. If anyone knows, please tell us which Council members invoked the “losses” argument in making their decision because I need to sit them down to explain the concept of civic services. Either that or I’m going to ask them to consider all other services, including the police force, fire department, and City Hall employees using the same metrics.

    Yes, I say that last part a little tongue in cheek. But I want you to stop and consider this next proposal because the City just moved one step closer to it — why not shut down the Senior Center and the Library? We “lose” a lot of money providing those services and that land is some of the most valuable in all of West U.

    Terrible, terrible decision, Council.

  8. Edward Says:

    No. That is why we elect these folks.

  9. Rhonda Says:

    Shouldn’t the residents get to vote on this subject????

    • Jan Kellogg Says:

      Residents should be allowed to vet and vote on this landmark that has served the community since 1997. But the vote to close it has been done quietly and quickly to avoid controversy. There should be a referendum on this, and the sooner the better — they are attempting to pass a higher threshold for referendums on the November ballot!

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