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Old Northeast HOA supports recycling, but not as-is

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association has officially come forward with complaints about St. Pete’s new curbside recycling program.

It’s the curbside part they have a problem with.

While several residents in the neighborhood have sent emails to city staff, the Mayor’s office and City Council, the association has now put it’s group into the mix.

In a letter sent to Mayor Rick Kriseman and City Council, HONNA president Peter Motzenbecker said the association supports recycling, but not curbside pickup.

Residents in the Old Northeast neighborhood are among the 40 percent of St. Pete homes that utilize alleyways for trash pickup.

Under the city’s recycling program, the 95-gallon blue bins won’t be picked up in the alley next to trash cans. Instead, they have to be placed by the curb.

Most homes in traditional neighborhoods in the City are accustomed to having trash pick-up in alleyways in less conspicuous locations,” Motzenbecker wrote. “To encourage that the program is successful, recycling bins should be placed and picked up in traditional neighborhoods in the same location designated for trash pickup which, in most cases, would be the alley.”

The city’s previous recycling program was an optional fee-based service. Resident who paid for recycling were given small bins. They were also picked up curbside.

But Motzenbecker said the new bins are so much larger, they could create an eyesore in the community.

Many homes in the Old Northeast neighborhood don’t have driveways. Some front yards are fenced in. Some homes don’t have any access from the front yard to the backyard or have limited access.

Motzenbecker writes that issue may cause some residents to forgo recycling altogether. He also worries some residents will opt to store the large, brightly colored bins in plain sight in their front yards to make recycling more convenient.

The letter also addresses concerns with having large trucks navigating narrow roads where residents and visitors often park along the street.

“Pickup trucks impose risks by navigating on narrow streets already constrained with on-street parking,” he wrote.

Motzenbecker asks that the program be revised to include alley pickup.

The letter, sent Wednesday, comes as City Council prepares to address the issue at its Thursday meeting.

City staff has said alley pickup is not feasible because the trucks ordered are too large for the space. They also said alley pickup could encourage permanent placement of bins next to trash containers and lead to non-recyclable material being placed into them.

Such a thing would burden the program.

City Council member Darden Rice has said she hopes the city will be flexible to encourage all residents to participate in the program. The more residents recycle, the cheaper the program becomes.

The city’s goal is to eventually reduce solid-waste pickup to once-per-week service and increase recycling to weekly instead of bi-weekly.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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