STATE COLLEGE Ed Holmes and Ed Hicks didnt have a chance to sit in two red camping chairs parked in the shade at Lederer Park on Sunday, as two dozen borough residents tilted back a 95- gallon trash cart full of wet wood chips.
The Public Works staffers also spent time at Sunset and Orchard parks over the weekend, demonstrating the 35-,65-and 95-gallon trash carts residents will receive this fall, and allowing them to feel the weight of each. They answered questions and handed out brochures and surveys asking residents which size carts they want.
Its been almost all positive, Hicks said of feedback at the park events, part of the boroughs educational efforts ahead of refuse service changes. He said about 350 residents attended the demonstrations and that staff will add resident questions and answers to the boroughs website, www.statecollegepa.us. Approved by Borough Council last fall, two new, automated trucks will collect trash from residents in uniform carts the borough will provide one for regular trash and one for organic and green waste, like food scraps, brush and grass clippings. The trucks can dump the carts in 12 seconds each, a time-saver for the borough.
Its also safer for collectors.
We dont like to use it as a selling point, but its so much safer for our workers, said Public Works Director Mark Whitfield, noting one collector had to take time off after straining his back.
Boroughwide food waste collection will allow residents to place food scraps, coffee grounds, used paper towels and more at the curb. The new service expands on a pilot food program started in January 2010 in two neighborhoods.
The new system will take full effect in January, though borough staff plan to start a test run this fall when the new carts and trucks are delivered. They hope to work out any bugs or problems and answer as many questions as possible before snow flies.
Bradley Avenue residents Meta and Mark Meckstroth said a June 6 mailing from the borough answered most of their questions, but also praised the Lederer Park event, where they listened to Holmes speak on the program.
I think its great that theyre doing this, Meta Meckstroth said.
The couple do some composting and said they plan to participate in the organic waste collection, which is voluntary.
Were enthusiastic about the process, Mark Meckstroth said.
For those who arent sure which cart size they need or dont respond, they will receive two of the 65-gallon carts. Residents can switch with the borough, if needed. Holmes said staff determined most customers can fit their trash in the mid-sized carts.
Staff plan to place the cart order at the end of July and hope to receive them in September or October. The trucks are being built and may arrive around the same time.
Staff hope to make as few changes to residential service as necessary, but one of those is that about half the boroughs customers will have a new pickup day.
Current collection takes place Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with bulk and brush collection Wednesday. The new system will condense collection to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Everyone on Tuesday right now, were going to try to keep them on Tuesday, Holmes said. Ideally, were going to make minimal changes.
Whitfield said the pickup changes will help the overall
system. The College Heights neighborhood trash is collected Monday, typically the boroughs shortest day.
One of the complaints I get from College Heights is the Monday holidays, he said, because the pickup day then changes. That will go away.
Most residents will pay the same rate, but the borough will set up a low-use fee for those who use the 35- gallon cart. The borough may collect residents existing trash containers for recycling, or recommend creating a rain barrel.
Other aspects of the new program include:
Further mailings and videos to help education residents.
Those who compost in their backyards are encouraged to continue.
Carts will have embedded chips identifying them by number. Should they go missing, the borough can find them.
Grass clipping dropoff at area parks will be discontinued, as clippings can be added to the organic waste cart.
Well be prepared, Whitfield said, as the carts arrive this fall. We want this to be as painless as possible.
For more information and to see answers to frequently asked questions about the refuse changes, visit www.statecollegepa.us and click on the link from the home page.
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter