GUEST COMMENTARY: Landfill might be a pot of fool's gold

2014-02-13T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Landfill might be a pot of fool's goldBy Craig Earley nwitimes.com
February 13, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Conditional annexation of the Republic Services dump near Lowell deserves serious consideration.

One of the problems is the way it’s been handled up to now. Another is the reason being used to support it.

A November meeting was held at which the town attorney attended. The council president asked me prior to this meeting if I supported him and another councilman meeting with Republic to negotiate a deal on annexing the dump. I believe this should be negotiated by the whole council.

I was also concerned about any negotiations with Republic since the questionable extension of its contract with Lowell just last year.

The council unanimously approved putting our garbage contract out to bid. Two weeks later, in a 3-2 vote, certain councilmen approved a three-year extension of Republic's contract with nothing but a motion and second. Literally no discussion.

Republic later came to a public meeting touting the new contract and savings to Lowell residents. When I asked, they didn't even know the contract cost to residents and couldn't explain any savings. There were none; it included an increase over three years.

We lost any chance of possibly doing better for our residents when we didn't put this out to bid. This set the stage for my concerns of any negotiations by only two councilmen and Republic Service.

I would like nothing better than to control the land next to the C&D Dump through annexation. Just for different reasons.

I have heard all the stories of the tipping fees that have been paid. In a recent council meeting, 

Council President Edgar Corns stated Lowell has missed out on $2 million in fees. He said, “We could have paved our streets with gold.” While the Lake County Solid Waste District may have received this kind of money, had the dump been in Lowell we would have needed to contract these host fees.

Host fees are negotiated completely separate, above and beyond the tipping fees to the county. I seriously doubt these fees would have matched the tipping fees. 

I suspect the current landfill is close to full and expanding will be necessary to stay in business. Why haven’t they already done it? They can expand the landfill without Lowell.

How many new jobs would an expansion create? Remember the old one is almost complete.

Annexing this land with proper zoning could open several opportunities for Lowell. It offers valuable land along Ind. 2 for commercial and light industrial which in turn fits the current western business landscape, creates a tax base, creates buffer zones essential for transitioning between residential living and business and many more jobs than an expansion of a dump. You’re limiting your future by not considering everything.

There are many ways to create revenue, a future and jobs. Columnist Marc Chase brought up many points, the most important being this decision should be discussed by all councilmen and all should be involved in negotiations, not just a few.

Craig Earley is a Lowell Town Council member. The opinions are the writer's.

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