Future of recycling center undecided; board seeking ways to reduce funding

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MEEKER | “People are just so used to going out and kicking out anything and everything down there. I have no problem moving everything but there kind of has to be phases,” Lee Overton told trustees at the most recent town board meeting. Overton, owner of Overton Recycling, is contracted with the town to provide recycling services to residents. The contract is set to renew automatically in January 2018, but the board has a number of concerns with the current arrangement, including insurance questions, use of the town’s equipment, potential competition with private entities, and the location of the center itself. “We’ve been talking as long as I’ve been on the board of ratcheting it down every year,” trustee Travis Day said.
Just how that might happen remains to be seen. One option is relocating everything to Overton’s property west of town. The board also discussed establishing partnerships with other entities.
“If we get to be a community who doesn’t do any recycling we’re going to end up with ditches full of refrigerators,” trustee Wendy Gutierrez said.
“The ultimate goal would be to get you (Overton) up and running on your own,” Day added.
According to Overton, this year the recycling center has handled about 200 tons of cardboard, 100 tons of metals, and 20 to 30 tons of plastic. One full semi-load is about 20 tons.
The board asked Overton to return to the Nov. 21 meeting with a potential business plan to present to the full board (three members were absent.)
In addition to the recycling center, the dead end on Third Street is also home to the bulk water loadout, town shop and animal shelter.
“One of our longterm goals is to clear it out down there,” Day said, acting as mayor pro temp.
The board heard a presentation regarding plans for that Third Street area from Chris Endreson with the University Technical Assistance (UTA) program, a partnership with the Department of Local Affairs that puts design students into real world situations and allows them to create design documents for local governments. The students create a programming the town can use as a starting point to move forward. “This way you have tangible ideas and plans and costs,” Endreson said. Additionally, “It seeds us into the DOLA process and gives us that credibility,” Town Planner Scott Meszaros said. The board approved the agreement.
The board also heard a presentation from executive director Nita Smith of Community Counts, a nonprofit organization working to facilitate communication between oil and gas operators, extractors and community members. Smith gave a short presentation at the beginning of the meeting about the organization’s mission and asked the town to consider renewing their membership. Community Counts provides signage, a 24/7 hotline, and a website (www.communitycountscolorado.com) in partnership with almost 70 other entities.
The town also approved reallocating $10,000 of funds earmarked for next year’s Circle Park upgrades. The funds will go toward a grant to expand the Meeker Trail System, specifically a new 2.6 mile loop named “Hidden Valley Trail.” The moderately difficult loop will connect to an existing trail. “It’s a pretty backcountry isolated experience. Having it in such proximity to the downtown corridor is a really attractive feature,” said Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan and Park District Sean VonRoenn. The grant application is due Nov. 1. VonRoenn told the board redirecting funds toward this more “shovel-ready” project would allow them to possibly break ground on the new trail next year.
In other business, the board signed off on accounts payable, approved a liquor license for Hopewest’s annual Halloween gala, opened three bids for improvements to the town’s electric and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems, and continued discussion on the potential of a spring ballot marijuana question.