FAIRHOPE – More than a month after being shut down by Hurricane Sally, Fairhope will resume curbside recycling pickups Monday as the efforts to clean up after the storm continued.
Richard Johnson, city public works director, said the center that processes Fairhope’s recyclable materials in Escambia County, Fla., has reopened. The city resumed curbside pickups on Monday and reopened the drop-off center as well. He said the city landfill is also open to receive material.
“We’ll accept all recyclables at the drop off,” Johnson said. “The landfill will only accept household rubbish, small-quantity construction and demolition debris, bagged vegetative debris, old mattresses, furniture, etc. rubbish.”
He said large amounts of debris from the storm should not be brought to the city landfill but left at the curbside for pickup.
“We are asking to not bring to us bulk vegetative debris, such as limbs, trunks, stumps, storm-related,” Johnson said. “We just don’t have the capacity to process that in our internal landfill and no bulk construction and demolition debris. If you’re cleaning up your yard and you’ve got just a little bit of blown-down fence, bring it to us. If you’ve got two, four, six truckloads, put it out by curbside because we still have to take that to a certified, lined landfill, so let our contractor do that and it’s more cost-effective for that.”
Johnson told the City Council on Monday, Oct. 12, that work continues to collect and remove the debris left behind by the storm. Officials don’t know, however, if the city will meet the deadline to make at least one collection throughout Fairhope within 28 days after the storm.
“Just to kind of give you an update, our debris contractor, even though some days you’ll pull down the street and it won’t look like it, they are blowing and going,” Johnson said “They’re exceeding, on average now, 11,000 cubic yards a day. The bill, as of the close of business Friday, was $1.75 million and counting, but they are moving. I think that we are probably a little, slightly, behind schedule on our zero to 28 days for our first pass, but we’re not far off of that and hopefully, tomorrow’s meeting will kind of give us an idea of if we’re going to be able to cover at least every road once by the 28th day. Today started day 22.”
Initial city estimates were that about 400,000 cubic yards of debris would have to be collected.
One way that residents can speed up the debris collection process is to separate material placed at the roadside for pickup, Johnson said. Vegetative debris, such as tree limbs and trunks, should be separated from “construction and demolition” debris, which includes boards and other items from damaged buildings.
“For example, pressure-treated wood, we can’t put that in an inert, vegetative disposal area. It has to go to a lined landfill because of some of the chemical content,” Johnson said. “Right now, if the piles are mixed up, that contractor is passing them by. They’ll eventually get to them, but that’s a mixed load and every bit of it will have to go to the actual Magnolia Landfill.”
City Council President Jack Burrell said another issue with collection is that some property owners and contractors are cutting healthy trees and putting the debris at the curb to be collected as storm debris.
“If you have a tree in your yard that was not damaged by Hurricane Sally and you just decide it’s time to take that down, you’re not supposed to put that out there in the hurricane debris pile,” Burrell said. “It’s not our responsibility to pick that up. Now I know people are taking advantage of this time to cut trees and put piles of vegetative debris, but that’s strictly, not supposed to be allowed.”
Johnson said city regulations require contractors to remove debris and include the removal costs in their prices.
“By ordinance, when an individual is offering contract services, such as tree removal or heavy landscaping, it says that price is to include the removal of the debris created from those contract services,” Johnson said. “So, in this case, if you have decided you want to remove perfectly healthy trees, and you hire a contractor, that fee you pay for those services, should also include that contractor hauling all the debris related to those contract services away.”