The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

June 18, 2014

Conneaut compost site will close temporarily

City officials are fed up with chronic misuse

CONNEAUT — Weary of the constant abuse, Conneaut officials will close the municipal compost site very soon to give the popular facility a good scrubbing.

The site will be off-limits as soon as a gate or barrier can be erected, and it won’t reopen until the Public Works Department can find time to pull trash, garbage and construction debris from the organic waste it was designed to accept.

“It could be four weeks, it could be six weeks or longer,” Ward 2 Councilman Phil Garcia said at Monday’s City Council work session.

When the compost site does return, people can expect an end to the around-the-clock access they’ve enjoyed for years. Also, a supervisor may be on the premises to check the cargo and to restrict use to Conneaut residents.

The compost site has been a sore subject with council since the start of spring. Efforts to maintain control have been thwarted by lazy, inconsiderate people who ignore the rules and regulations, officials have said. In one spot, a huge pile of trimmed tree limbs blocks the entrance to the dirt road that travels to the rear of the site. The only way the road can be reached is by driving over a curb. Other people have been content to dump items on the road itself.

Council President Nicholas Church, who has railed against the misuse of the site for the past several weeks, recommended the site be closed until it can be brought under control. The rest of council agreed.

“We have no control over it,” he said Monday. “It’s a really, really bad situation. It’s big and nasty and one of the biggest things on our plate.”

When it debuted several years ago off East Main Road (Route 20) near the Pennsylvania line, city employees made sure the only things going in were tree limbs, leaves, grass clippings and other yard waste. The supervisors disappeared a few years ago in a cost-cutting move, and since then people have been sneaking in all manner of refuse.

“It’s not known as the compost site,” Church said. “It’s known as the Conneaut dump site.”

City administrators plan to erect a gate or barrier soon on Innovation Parkway (which leads to the site) where it intersects with Route 20. Officials want the gate close to Route 20, a high-visibility location, to deter dumping outside the gate.

During the hiatus, the city hopes to remove plastic bags, bricks, cement, tires, lumber and other from the mounds. Also, administrators will research ways to deal with the organic waste that remains. The pile will not be burned, making grinding into mulch the likely option.

When the site reopens, the city plans to inform residents on what it can and can’t accept. “We need to be a little more aggressive (in educating the public),” said Ward 3 Councilwoman Deborah Newcomb.

There’s a good chance the city will try to find money to pay for on-site supervision to prevent further problems. Use will be restricted to Conneaut residents and the gates will remain, limiting the hours of operation.

 

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