Recycling the recycling debate

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The recycling center (pictured here on Aug. 18) was a topic of debate once again at the most recent Town Board of Trustees meeting.

MEEKER | Following a joint meeting between Meeker’s Board of Trustees and the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District Board of Directors, town trustees met for their regular meeting.

During the joint meeting, Sean VonRoenn, ERBM executive director, and board president Kent Walter updated the trustees on the Circle Park pond project. The multi-phase project, partially funded by grants, intends to create a fishing pond at Circle Park, improve river access and add other amenities.

The rec district proposed amending the lease agreement to maintain the town parks to include maintenance for the Fifth Street Bridge. Phase 2 of the project involves expanding the Circle Park entrance and adding additional parking spaces, among other things.

“We don’t have a final fixed amount on those‚“ VonRoenn said when asked about Phase 2 costs.

Town Attorney Melody Massih objected to some of the language in the proposal that would “take away the flexibility the town has” in managing the bridge. The bridge was downgraded by the State of Colorado last year, following changes in the formula used for bridge classifications. According to town staff, the bridge will still accommodate the weight of the CPW fish stocking truck. Massih agreed to revise the amendment as submitted and present it to the board for approval at the next meeting.

The ERBM board also asked trustees to consider “taking up” the water bill for Sanderson Park, “consistent with the rest of the parks” as an additional amendment to the lease. During the regular meeting, trustees agreed to take on the additional water expense.

The board also approved a three-way “perpetual, nonexclusive construction access easement” between the town, Meeker Highland Cemetery District and the rec district. Boundary adjustments between the town and the cemetery district are in the works.


The board approved a request from the town attorney to administrate a “useful public service” program.

“We haven’t had useful public service for municipal court defendants for awhile,” Massih said. “We used to have it through the county.” That option ended in January.

Massih said she likes having public service available in municipal cases, particularly for juveniles, but also for adults, on a case-by-case basis. In 2018 the town had five defendants with a total of 41 hours of useful public service.


As trustees prepared to discuss the future of the recycling center, Meeker residents Janet Cook and Ellen McDonell were present to share their perspective. McDonell lives near the recycling center at the end of Third Street.

“I listen to people coming in there at all hours,” she said. Recycle center hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. “That doesn’t mean people aren’t coming in there,” she said. Noise, mice and windblown trash were among the concerns McDonell shared with trustees.

“This has been going on for eight, nine, ten years and it’s still the same. You can tell me it’s going to get cleaned up, but I don’t believe you,” she said, her frustration evident. “Something needs to be done and not put off for another year. Talk about it, make a decision, follow through and take care of it.”

Following up on previous discussions, Meeker’s trustees discussed their intentions concerning continued financial support of the subsidized recycling program.

When the recycling program was established, recycling was profitable. In the last year those fortunes have turned, as China and other countries will no longer accept U.S. recyclables. Recycling—once a business model—more than ever a public service.

After much discussion, trustees agreed to direct staff to draft a Request for Proposal that will include the cost of subsidized recycling of paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum at a different location than the current Third Street site, which has been the source of concerns and complaints about illegal dumping for years.

With county landfill rates expected to rise, recycling will be more attractive, as long as it’s free. 

Trustees further discussed improvements to the other town-owned buildings on Third Street. Cook said she’s awaiting clear direction from the board for the buildings. Once a design plan for the town-owned properties is established, the town can put the improvements out to bid, as well as putting together a request for proposals for someone to relocate the recycling center to a new location.

In other business, trustees:

  • Approved special events liquor licenses for the Lions Club during the Meeker Mustang Makeover on Friday, Sept 6 at the fairgrounds and at the Meeker Plaza downtown on Saturday, Sept. 7 during the Meeker Classic Jammin’ Lamb Barbecue.
  • Opened the sole bid for roof replacement at the animal shelter. Despite “a ton of calls on it,” the only bid received was from Meeker Mayor Regas Halandras for $37,051.


By NIKI TURNER | Special to the Herald Times