Yard waste collections discussed by Marietta council

The option to have yard waste picked up separately from other trash is an alternative Marietta residents may have in the city’s next waste hauling contract.

“Yard waste would be picked up, but the cost to the resident would be $2 a month, and stickers would have to be purchased for those bags to be handled separately,” said Marietta Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, and chairman of council’s special utilities committee.

He said another option will be to have one bulk item picked up per quarter. Bulk items may include furniture, appliances, water heaters, etc.

The options are among alternatives that trash hauling contractors will be asked to include in their bids as the city advertises for a new waste handling contract. The current contract with Rumpke Inc. expires this spring.

Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, had hoped all residents could have yard waste picked up separately and hauled to a local mulch or composting site.

“I just want to keep grass and leaves out of the waste stream,” he said, noting that currently residents can simply include yard waste with other trash that is picked up and hauled to a landfill.

“We need to be more environmentally in tune and stop throwing that yard waste away in some landfill,” Kalter said following Wednesday’s meeting of the special utilities committee.

Residents do have the option now of taking their grass clippings, leaves, twigs and other yard debris to Greenleaf Landscaping on Muskingum Drive where those materials are turned into mulch.

But Kalter noted it’s currently easier for many people, including elderly citizens, to just put their yard waste out with the trash for weekly pickup.

“I wanted to get a conversation going that would help keep yard waste in the local area instead of throwing it away with other trash,” he said.

McCauley asked city law director Paul Bertram III to prepare legislation authorizing the administration to advertise for bids by Feb. 1. The documents are expected to be ready for a special council session that has been tentatively scheduled for Jan. 31.

In other business Wednesday, city engineer Joe Tucker asked members of council’s streets and transportation committee for permission to seek state grant funding to help offset expenses for an unfunded federal mandate to upgrade reflectivity and lettering on city traffic signage.

“This is something we have to do, and if we move now we may be able to get 80 percent of the cost paid out of state funds,” he said. “The total cost will be around $84,000. ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) would cover 80 percent, and the city would be responsible for the remaining 20 percent.”

Tucker said he would like to have the funding in place to advertise for bids on the contract by Aug. 29 and award the contract by Sept. 9. He said the work would be completed in January 2014.

“This would be for all regulatory signs along 5.4 miles of federal aid streets only,” he explained. “The grant won’t pay for other city streets.”

The federal mandate requires higher reflectivity so people can see signs better. It also requires sign lettering, currently in all capital letters, to be a combination of upper and lower case letters.

Also on Wednesday, Marietta resident Dave Haney asked for better traffic enforcement along Fourth Street near St. Mary School and Marietta Memorial Hospital.

He said there has been increased traffic from the hospital and some drivers are traveling at speeds much higher than the 25 mph limit in that area.

“They speed off the hill and through the school zone,” Haney said. “It’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed.”

He suggested the city install traffic cameras in that area to catch speeders and noted citing those violations could increase revenue for the city.

“But we’re mostly concerned for the safety of our children and grandchildren in that area,” Haney said.

He also requested improvements to the alley that runs behind Front Street business properties Haney owns in downtown Marietta.

Haney said he and Schafer’s Leather owner Rob Schafer had spent a total of $4,000 for parking lot pavement work that was needed to level out the entrances to their lots from the alley. He said the work was required because the city has not properly maintained the brick alley that runs between Butler and Greene streets.

“I think it’s unfair for the city to have let that alley deteriorate so that private citizens had to spend their own money to do those repairs,” Haney said. “And I plan to ask the city finance committee for reimbursement.”

Marietta safety-service director Jonathan Hupp told Haney that Mayor Joe Matthews wants to start putting money aside for an alley paving program next year.

“We can’t completely rebuild these alleys, but we can repair them in 20- or 30-foot sections,” Hupp said.

Haney said the alley behind his properties would require a complete rebuild, including drainage improvements and the latest engineering estimate for that alley was $211,000.

Councilman Michael Mullen, I-at large, said the city’s shrinking revenues can’t afford such a large alley project.

“There’s only so much water in the well, and it’s getting drier and drier every year,” he said.

Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, agreed.

“What we will continue to do is patch and repair alleys-that’s what we can afford to do,” he said. “We don’t know where to get the money to fix the city’s alleys.”

Haney said he would be willing to help pay for the alley project through a property assessment process if other property owners in the neighborhood would agree.

Properties adjacent to the alley would be assessed a certain amount, based on frontage, to help pay for the project. The city would also pay a portion of the expense.

A large majority of the property owners would have to agree to the assessment before it could be considered by council.

Vukovic asked Tucker to look into the possibility of an assessment on properties located along the alley.