Dump growth requires new safety, staffing measures

  • Tue May 14th, 2019 3:22pm
  • Life

Submitted by The Lopez Dump

The Lopez Dump as we know it today was born from the vision and hard work of local legend Neil Hanson. Neil and his wife Ona worked tirelessly to empower all Lopezians to live more resourcefully, at less cost and environmental impact. Take it or Leave It was Neil’s brainchild (still quaintly referred to as “Neil’s Mall”) and has thrived beyond Neil and Ona’s years of service at the Dump. In the process, TIOLI has become one of Lopez’s most popular tourist attractions, enlightening thousands of visitors to the joys that come with a more open give-and-take consumer society.

Our stellar reputation is well deserved, but is increasingly at risk of failure from too much success. Since 2014 there has been an 87 percent increase in spring season vehicle traffic at the Dump (January through April), not accounting for foot traffic on what is an industrial site. This has corresponded to similar increases in garbage and recycling volumes, staff workload and most importantly, safety concerns. For a little organization that relies heavily on volunteerism, three paid site staff and taxpayer dollars, this is a heavy lift.

The Dump has a nearly perfect safety record due to our committed workforce, but has not been without its “close calls.” In order to stay in operation and maintain the safety of all customers, continued changes must occur in response to dramatic growth. A single major safety accident will put the entire operation in jeopardy.

Over the next few months, Dump customers will witness more substantial changes at the Dump in order to increase safety for customers and reduce stress on staff and volunteers. The Dump will commence summer hours earlier than ever before, operating from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday through Monday, starting May 31. As was the case last year, TIOLI will be closed on Mondays.

We hope to start accepting credit cards payments before summer. We encourage customers to avoid coming on Sundays, by far the most congested day. Customers will also notice new signage, new infrastructure, new restrictions on parking and new staff.

The Dump is in the process of hiring a traffic safety assistant and is beginning the recruitment process for two other important positions: district manager and assistant facility manager.

Current District Manager Paul Andersson, an Orcas Island resident (we forgive him for that), has filled the role of our first ever district manager for the last two and a half years. Paul has recently notified the board that his family and other commitments will necessitate his departure. Over the next few months, we will be hiring a replacement for Paul while also adding much needed site support to ease the strain on our longtime Facility Manager David Zapalac.

At this time there are no plans to increase garbage rates or the annual levy – our site and staffing adjustments can be afforded through steady increases in garbage volume and revenues. Instead of asking for residents to pay any more for these services, we ask for your patience, cooperation, and understanding. Safety is our No. 1 priority.