Recycle Utah says it needs more room
Insa Riepen likes to say that more people use her Recycle Utah site than patronize the post office.
And that’s why she wants more space.
The recycling center located on Woodbine Way is too small, argues Riepen, the center’s executive director. To make it more convenient for residents and improve the amount of recyclables the center can handle, the operation needs a new, and bigger, home.
"My main concern is one of convenience for our citizens," Riepen said. "My main concern is safety. We are at the end of a street, at the dead end of a street. It is a challenge at times to find a parking space here because we are such a popular place to hang out for a while. The challenges are really one of traffic and safety."
This isn’t an idle wish list. She spent part of last week taking her message to both the Summit County and Park City councils. She presented a 20-minute slide show to the Summit County Council last Wednesday, July 8. The next day, Park City Council members visited the Woodbine Way site.
At both events, she argued that her operation had run out of room.
"It is very challenging," she said. "We have grown too big for our little footprint here."
Her staff surveys residents once a year, discovering that clients want the traffic flow through the facility improved. Currently, users must park their cars, then dump their recyclables. The lot is full, at times, forcing clients to park elsewhere or make another trip. Driving straight through is the preferred pattern.
"(Residents say) we want you stay exactly where you are, we just want you to figure out a better traffic situation," Riepen said. "Meaning I need to be able to pull in and keep on going."
The current location sits on a half-acre plot. Riepen and her staff want at least three acres. But in the era of a heated real estate market and high housing prices, finding land seems a daunting task.
"The one thing that is seriously lacking in Summit County is finding a piece of dirt on which to build a new center. The center would be a transfer center similar to what we have now just a better layout, a more customer-friendly drop-off center," she said.
The ideal location is near one of the main highways, either Interstate 80 or U.S. 40.
Recycle Utah has set aside $500,000. Although she had no figures on how much a new facility would cost, she did say their savings would not come close to covering the costs.
Summit County is just beginning to tackle the issue, said Kim Carson, the county council’s chair. She supports moving the facility to a larger spot, even though the county has seen no specific proposal.
"We know that they’re going to have to find some place new and I think the city of Park City and the county will do what we can to assist them in trying to find a location," Carson said.
"We realize that the current location is not ideal and it’s in an area where they’re looking at potential redevelopment so we need to find some place that’s centrally located and has enough space where you have good circulation for not only the drop-off of the recycled goods but the pickup by the recycler."
Recycle Utah is a non-profit that contracts with both the city and county. The center accepts a host of recyclable materials that are not allowed in the curbside bins. Chief among those items is corrugated cardboard, the center’s largest item. It also takes plastic bags and glass, two items often confused by residents and that find their way into the bins.
"Even though we have a pretty sweet curbside bin, there are certain things that go in there and a whole lot that do not," she said.
Twice a year, the center accepts hazardous material. Riepen argues that should happen daily.
"What I would like to very much see is to have the ability to drop off hazardous waste on a daily basis, meaning if you have anything hazardous we could take it in and then in conjunction with the county landfill get rid of it on a daily basis," she said.
Besides hazardous items, Riepen would like to start a reusable paint program. Instead of throwing it away, the center would save old paint and give it to residents with a paint job.
Without assistance from either the county or city, Recycle Utah could accept private donations. Despite that all ideas and proposals are still only theory for now, Riepen says the group is serious about finding a new location
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.