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Solid waste petition tops 1,200 signatures
- Submitted by Lopez Solid Waste Alternatives Project
More than 1,200 Lopezians have signed a petition asking the San Juan County Council to create a Lopez Island Solid Waste Disposal District to take over operation of the Lopez dump and recycling center, and the names keep coming in. Patty Miller, Chair of the Council, asked for signatures of 550 registered voters by May 15 as a “show of support” that Lopez property owners would be willing to help finance a Solid Waste Disposal District with property taxes. The petition-signers pledge to vote for an estimated $.08 per $1,000 valuation property tax measure in November.
The drive to establish a Lopez Solid Waste Disposal District comes in response to the county’s intention to exit the solid waste business on all the islands and to issue RFP’s to commercial entities to take over the operations. On Lopez, the prospect of placing waste management practices in the hands of a commercial carrier has raised fears of mandatory roadside pickup and overflowing trashcans along the island’s largely rural roads, as well as closure of the beloved Take-It-Or-Leave It “repurposing” center at the county site.
In anticipation of the council acceding to Lopezians’ requests and establishing the new district, an interim advisory board is drawing up an operational plan for a new Lopez waste system at the current site, to be leased from the county. Current projections show tipping fees of $8 per can. Recycling would be free and would return to a source-separated system to maximize value.
"The 1,200 signatures send a clear message to the county council that Lopez residents want to take local control of the “Dump” and are willing to pay a small property tax to keep the garbage can cost at $8 and have free recycling, “ said Page Read , an advisory board member. “Now our job on the advisory board is to present the county council with an operating plan with a budget that pays for day-to-day operations and necessary capital equipment, proving we are ready and able to responsibly run the Lopez Island Solid Waste Disposal District." Other board members are Sandy Bishop, Larry Eppenbach and Dan Post.
However the plan shakes out, Lopez would still be liable for a share of county “legacy costs” and other programs.
Since the drive started April 9, determined residents have been circulating petitions at the Lopez “Dump,” in ferry lines and at public and private gatherings and show no signs of flagging enthusiasm.
“I’ll be there with rings on my fingers and bells on my toes!” said Suzi Marean, recently retired Lopez Community Advocate for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of the San Juans, who volunteered for petition duty at the “Dump” on Saturday. “People have been working so hard to bring this effort to this point. It reflects the dedication to our community and each other.”