Heated Email Asks Mayor to Reconsider Closing Recycling Center

September 26, 2013

The immediate past chair of West U’s  Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Board says she feels as if she was sent “on a fool’s errand” for the past eight years if council votes tonight to close the city’s recycling center, and she wrote a heated e-mail to the mayor telling him so.

The email, sent by Jan Kellogg to Mayor Bob Fry, was copied to several West U residents.

“The specious and simplistic argument that not enough residents use the facility to justify the expenditure gives lie to the moniker “The City that Recycles,’” Kellogg wrote. “ It appears that West U continues to do less, not more, recycling than surrounding communities such as Huntsville, Victoria and Sugar Land. Initiatives that we have studied, worked on and proposed have been dismissed and greeted as a nuisance by this Council, with one exception (Susan Sample).”

The West U City Council will decide tonight whether or not to close the recycling center, RecyclExpress, at 5004 Dincans. If council decides to close the facility, staff will recommend closing it by January 2014, City Manager Michael Ross said.

Mayor Pro Tem Susan Sample is the only council member who is not in favor of closing the facility at this time.

City staff has been monitoring the expenditures of the center for years. City officials have said that the recycling center has not broken even and the cost to operate the center is more than it makes in revenue.

Assistant Public Works Director Dave Beach said the center loses between $150,000 to $200,000 each year. The city has also said that most users of the facility do not live in West U.

Fry declined to comment to InstantNewsWestU.com about the email, saying it was a personal email sent to his personal account, and he would respond to her directly, not publicly.

“The recommendation by the consultants to close the facility was intended to be done in conjunction with automation and the resumption of yard waste pickup.  Now it appears we will have none of the above; only the same curbside pickup in 18-gallon bins that yields about a 25 percent recycling rate overall — no change whatsoever in the almost 8 years I have served on this board,” wrote Kellogg in her email.

The City of West U previously had yard waste collected by a company that sent it to compost. The company closed, and the only replacement that was found was located far enough away from the city that the added cost would increase resident’s waste collection fees, which are already about to increase due to  lower than expected sale of recyclables revenue in 2012 and 2013.

Council was considering automation when it came time to replace several garbage trucks, but Fry says there was no significant savings involved and automation raised other issues, such as large cans on the curb all day and street parking interfering with collection.

Kellogg ended her email asking Fry to reconsider the “irreversible” decision.

“When I started this work, I sincerely believed the fiction that we all shared a common value:  of being reasonably responsible stewards of our possessions,” wrote Kellogg. “But it seems I have been sent on a fool’s errand these last eight years.”

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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