Council Debates the Merits of Weekly Recycling
by Peter Shelton
Jun 16, 2011 | 2003 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“I’m a single person. I don’t fill up one bin in two weeks,” said Ridgway Town Councilmember Rich Durnan during a debate at last week’s regular council meeting on whether to go to weekly recycling pickups rather than every other week, as it is now.

Jonathan Greenspan of S.U.N.R.I.S.E., Inc., in Telluride, which contracts with the town for recycling services (Bruin Waste Management does the actual hauling), had requested the increased frequency – with an added $2.75 per month per customer – because, he said, “People get it; they are recycling more.”

Greenspan said that his company was adding new materials to the list of recyclables, including more plastics, cardboards and glass other than glass bottles, adding to the volume. He also suggested that weekly pickup would actually cut down the number of trips his trucks would have to make, thus reducing his, and the town’s, carbon footprint.

Councilor Durnan felt that residents who produce fewer recyclables, shouldn’t be charged along with the more profligate.

“It’s going to really suck if I have to pay for another service I don’t use,” he said. He then explained that he only “fill[s] half a trash can every week, too.”

Greenspan countered that quite a few recyclers overfill their bins, which results in plastic in the streets and on sidewalks. Those who recycle a lot of material, and pay $4.50 a month for an additional bin, would actually save money under the new weekly pickup.

Mayor Pat Willits was sensitive to the added fee, as small as it is, on top of recent rate hikes by the town, for water and sewer services, increases for trash collection, and higher rates being charged by electric and gas utilities.

“These are tough times. Costs are going up,” he said. “I will vote no” on the proposal for weekly recycling, “though, as always, the mayor only votes in case of a tie.” And, with Councilor Ellen Hunter missing and only five other council members present, Willits said, “It doesn’t look as if there will be a tie.”

“I think the $2.75 is an incredibly small price to pay for the recycling service we get,” said Mayor Pro Tem John Clark, “especially if it helps the vendor reduce his carbon footprint.”

Greenspan confirmed that, with fewer trucks maxing out and having to make second round trips to Ridgway on a given day, he figured an overall reduction of 15 to 20 percent in total trips.

Durnan didn’t want to let go. “Wouldn’t it be better if we educated the public about crushing cans and plastic bottles to better pack the bin . . .”

Councilor Rick Weaver asked, “Which plan [weekly or twice a month] creates more recycling? That’s the goal. I don’t think $2.75 is too daunting if it will create more recycling.”

“I think it will increase recycling,” said Clark. “We can make a difference for the future here. Sure, we need to generate less waste: shop intelligently, buy less packaging, buy in bulk . . . I still think $2.75 is a small price to pay.”

Greenspan allowed that two of his other customers, the Town of Telluride and the Town of Mountain Village, have always had weekly pickups.

When the vote came, only Durnan voted no.

The new weekly Ridgway curbside recycling will commence Tuesday July 5 for the south side of town and Friday July 8 for the north side.

Town Clerk Pam Kraft noted that residents’ July bills (for June services) would make note of the change, but that they wouldn’t be charged for the added service until the following month’s bill, which arrives in August.


“If you want people to drive 20 mph, reduce the speed limit to 15 mph.”

So said Ridgway Councilor Rick Weaver, commenting on the new Traffic Flow Management Plan before council at its meeting Wednesday.

But, in fact, reducing the speed limit on side streets may not be necessary, according to a recent study, said Town Manager Jen Coates. The samples are admittedly small, and the technology imperfect, Coates said, but two data sets, from Moffat and Clinton streets, showed average speeds right around the desired 15 mph. The current speed limit on all surface streets is 20 mph.

The real problem, said Councilor Rich Durnan, is truck traffic on Moffat and other residential streets; delivery and other trucks use Moffat, for example, to get to County Road 5.

Designated truck routes are addressed in the Plan, Coates said, with the goal of limiting trucks to collector roads (Hwy 62, CR 23, Railroad Street, South Lena, North and South Amelia Streets) and keeping them off local streets.

The plan does recommend two speed limit changes: reduce to 15 mph on Lena Street in front of the Post Office; and increase the speed from 20 to 25 mph on Railroad Street north of the highway.

The plan also envisions reducing the number of stop signs in town by a total of nine. Eighteen stop signs would be removed, nine of which would be “replanted” at different intersections.

The profusion of stop signs can be confusing, and controversial, said Mayor Pro Tem John Clark. But while he favored the overall reduction, he nevertheless cautioned that with stop signs soon to be in unfamiliar places, “We’ll have to pay attention and relearn our routes.”

The plan was adopted unanimously.


The Ridgway Town Council on Wednesday voted to advance by two weeks the 18-day period during which candidates can circulate nominating petitions for town council elections. Now, nominating petitions must be complete and filed 46 days prior to a municipal election.

The reason, according to the new ordinance is “to promote greater opportunity for consideration of the candidates by the electors.”

“Isn’t that the job of the local media?” asked one wag.

From the audience, former council member Rodney Fitzhugh asked if the signature-gathering period ought not “be expanded to more than 18 days?”

“How many signatures are needed?” Councilor Rich Durnan asked. The number is a percentage of votes cast in previous elections. Ten was the answer. “You need more than 18 days to get 10 signatures?”


River Sage developer Rusty Weaver came before the Ridgway Town Council last Wednesday to plead for more time.

As part of a June 2009 agreement that granted Weaver’s subdivision additional density, the developer had agreed to build a pedestrian bridge over the Uncompahgre River from the river trail to the Weaver Memorial Park. And to add lights to the existing vehicle bridge into River Sage. The time for these improvements to be completed has come and gone.

But, Weaver told council, due to the economic downturn, only one of the eight lots has sold, and “if we had to come up with the $108,000 [for the pedestrian bridge, and $7,000 for the bridge lights], that would put the project under. We need to spend the money in other areas right now.

“The reason for a pedestrian bridge,” Weaver continued, “was traffic flow,” wanting to separate pedestrian and vehicular traffic. “But I’m still the only traffic flow up there,” he said, referencing the fact that his own home is the only one built so far.

Weaver asked that the bridge improvements be put off until Phase 2 of his development kicks in.

Although no one present could answer the question of when exactly Phase 2 would start (when all seven remaining Phase 1 lots are sold? when a Phase 2 request is filed with the town? when construction of Phase 2 infrastructure begins?), council agreed that the need for the new bridge was not there at present. Newest council member Jim Kavanaugh suggested that Weaver be given an extension of two years, or until the beginning of Phase 2, whichever comes first. With Councilor Rick Weaver recusing himself to the Community Center kitchen, the remaining members voted unanimously to grant the extension.

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