The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 10, 2014

EPA may be asked to lend some help with Conneaut compost site

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — City officials want to meet with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to discuss the future of Conneaut’s compost site, City Manager Tim Eggleston said Friday.

The facility on East Main Road, near the Pennsylvania line, has accepted organic waste — tree limbs, grass clipping and leaves — for many years. Lately, however, the honor system hasn’t worked and decidedly unnatural debris, such as construction material, is winding up on the pile.

When it began, an on-site supervisor kept an eye on the material delivered. But budget cuts forced the city to eliminate the supervisor a few years ago, and the compost site is wide open and unguarded around the clock.

The site is also bursting with yard waste. Mounds that haven’t been removed or mulched for awhile are starting to encroach on the access road, making it difficult to reach some sections of the site.

Eggleston said he plans to confer with Janice Switzer, of the county’s environmental services department, on the situation. He is hoping Switzer can help arrange a meeting with the Ohio EPA on the matter and offer suggestions.

“We need to talk with somebody,” Eggleston said. “I want to ask them what we can do.”

There’s no discernible market for the compost material and burning the debris isn’t an environmentally-sound option. In the past, the Ashtabula County Solid Waste District — with the aid of communities — rented a tub grinder to turn the waste into mulch. A grinder hasn’t visited the area in some time.

Eggleston said he had hoped to move the compost site to vacant, fenced-in property on the city’s west side, near the North Kingsville line. That plan fizzled when the appraised value of the former Sidley location was lower than the asking price, he said.

“The Sidley property just didn’t pan out,” Eggleston said.

Conneaut City Council members said the compost site needs attention soon.

“We’ve lost control of it big-time,” Council President Nicholas Church said earlier this week. “People from Pennsylvania are coming in to drop off stuff. That’s not good.”

Eggleston said he will explore installing gates on a temporary basis to control traffic into the compost site. “It’s a complex issue,” he said.