What Should Decatur Do About Glass Recycling?

We foretold this.  Recycling

Well, maybe not so much “foretold” as casually brought it up randomly at one point last year.

In a post last August about our love/hate relationship with our big blue recycling bins, I noted, if I may quote myself…

…glass is already a questionable recyclable commodity.  It has little value to recyclers and a lot of it gets broken in transit.  Mixed with other recyclables, broken glass leads to contamination of other items and makes them um, un-recyclable.

Then, right on cue, at the beginning of year some metro Atlanta communities stopped accepting glass recycling.

Decatur Asst. City Manager David Junger told the AJC around that time that the city would continue to accept glass in our one-stop-shop bins, but the writing seemed to be on the wall.  At the time, Mr. Junger noted the city was looking at every possibility for the most unwanted member of the recycling family.  We summarized the options thusly…

  • Stop recycling glass (and send it to the landfill)
  • Have Latham collect glass separately
  • Have the city collect glass separately
  • Set up drop off locations in the city for glass recycling

Now the chickens are coming home to roost.  (Man…a lot of metaphors in this post.)

Decaturish reports that “Pratt Industries of Conyers, Ga. has informed the city that effective June 1 it will no longer accept recycling materials that contain glass.”  The city has a few months to decide what to do.

So what should we do?

According to Mr. Junger, every option will cost more – including taking it to the landfill.  Are you up for separating glass and recycling it at the curb?  Do you want to make separate trips to recycling locations around the city to dispose of your empties?  Do you just want to chuck it all in your Decatur-bespeckled trash bags?

The city wants your feedback.

Decatur To Continue Recycling Glass For Now

IMG_2726

Many Decatur residents have been wondering whether Decatur will still be recycling glass in the future, after a recent AJC report noted many recyclers servicing metro Atlanta municipalities are shipping glass to landfills instead of recycling it.

Why?  Because it’s gotten expensive to sort out and recycle glass.

Well, it looks like the AJC followed up with Asst. City Manager David Junger who said that the city’s current contract with Latham Home Sanitation includes the recycling of glass.  That contract runs through June.

After that, Decatur’s commissioners are likely gonna have to make some tough decisions.  If glass recycling remains financially unsustainable, here’s the list of options that Mr. Junger provided…

  • Stop recycling glass
  • Have Latham collect glass separately
  • Have the city collect glass separately
  • Set up drop off locations in the city for glass recycling

As we have written about before, the recycling game is much more complex than our giant blue bins suggest.  And the big bin itself has been linked to part of the problem, as the size and convenience of the big bin leads to lazier recycling on our part.  Combine that with the complexity of separating the wide variety of items at recycling centers and you’ve got yourself a system that feels easy, but isn’t when it comes to the dollars and cents that drive the industry.

GDOT May Be Open to Making Physical Changes To Slow Traffic on Scott Boulevard

scott boulevard

The AJC reports this morning that the City of Decatur has recently met with the Georgia Department of Transportation and that while they likely aren’t open to lowering the speed limit on Scott Boulevard, they may be open to making physical changes to the road to deter high-speed travel through Decatur’s premier car sewer.

“They really don’t want to lower the limit, which we would like,” [Asst. City Manager David Junger] said. “But I think they’d be open to making physical changes, like narrowing the lanes, or maybe doing a series of medians in the middle. We want to make people less comfortable driving fast on Scott.”

As has been reported here previously, a large majority of speeding tickets given out in Decatur are along the Scott speedway.  According to the AJC, Mr. Junger reported that a recent speed study by the city concluded that 85% of drivers went 49 mph or lower along Scott, well above the current posted 40 mph limit.

As we’ve discussed many times before, Scott Boulevard is a state road so any and all changes must be approved by GDOT.  The department calculates speed limits by looking for the magic speed limit number where 15% drive faster and 85% drive slower, so it’s not all that surprising GDOT doesn’t want to lower the limit.

Related: It took three years for  the installation of sidewalks along Scott in both directions to come to pass, so don’t hold your breath for any changes along Scott in the near-term, even if there’s general agreement among parties.

Decatur Now Sounds More Optimistic About Getting Speed Limits Reduced

speed limit signThis is quite a rollercoaster of red tape, stalled/restarted efforts, and bureaucratic hurdle jumping. Let’s recap.

Back in January we reported that the Decatur Citizen Survey showed that a majority of residents were interested in reducing the speed limit inside the city.  We then were told by the city that the plan was still alive inside city hall, though it hadn’t seem to have seen .

Then in February, Decatur Heights neighbors took to the podium at City Hall and reinvigorated the conversation, asking the city commission take action on a 2011 25 mph residential speed zone petition for the entire Decatur Heights neighborhood.  At that meeting, Asst. City Manager David Junger told the commission that it had been difficult to move the process forward, due in part to staff changes at the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Now the AJC is reporting that after a recent meeting with the state’s Department of Transportation, Mr. Junger is “encouraged about eventually getting city speed limits reduced”.

“Our next step is compiling a spread sheet of those roads eligible for 25 mph,” Junger said.

Eligibility would include streets with limited visibility and large numbers of children. Junger pointed out that Decatur streets have a “hodgepodge” of limits, but speeding tickets can’t be written until a driver is at least 11 mph over the limit (areas with unstated limits are 30 mph). Junger said the city wants more speed limits with a “residential” designation, meaning tickets can be issued at a single mile over the speed limit.

As Beacon Center is Completed, Committee Suggests New Four-Way Stop on Trinity Place

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 8.04.09 AM

Work on the Beacon Municipal Center is almost complete.

Late last week, the city announced that the official dedication of the complex would take place on Saturday, May 16th.  Related – the City Commission has a final change order for the project on its desk for tonight’s city commission meeting.  (The final project budget is projected at $38,500,000, according to Asst. City Manager David Junger’s note to the commission.

Also on the City Commission’s docket this evening is an item submitted by the city’s Traffic Calming Committee to add a four-way stop close by at the intersection of West Trinity Place and Electric Avenue.  Currently, it’s a two-way stop with stop signs on Electric, but not on Trinity.

According to a note submitted to the Commission from the Traffic Calming Committee to David Junger, the request was initiated by committee member Cheryl Burnette, however City Schools of Decatur employees have also voiced “their concerns of safety when crossing this intersection.”

With the official opening of the Beacon Center, the committee anticipates continually increasing traffic.  Additionally, there is a concern about general visibility at that intersection. The note states that “Due to the close proximity of buildings to the intersection and on street parking, it can be difficult to see oncoming traffic without moving past the stop bar and into the intersection.”.

A field evaluation deemed that the request was “urgent due to the high volume of traffic, limited visibility, and proximity to major activity centers.”

If approved, the signs will be bagged for a week before being unveiled.

The city has long prepped Trinity to become a second Ponce de Leon Ave.  The bike lane in the pic above is just one example.  That happened back in 2010. Expect more little tweaks to the urban environment on Trinity in the coming years as Callaway and the DHA property at Commerce and Trinity is built up.

Photo courtesy of Google Streetview

Decatur To Replace Crumbling Faux-Brick Crosswalks, Considering Painted Concrete

painted crosswalksAnother interesting mention from the end of last night’s Decatur City Commission meeting.

The City of Decatur is currently putting together a bid document to replace the many faux-brick crosswalks installed downtown five years ago, with new, more durable concrete ones.

This in and of itself is good news, since those crosswalks have not stood up well to the multitudes of cars passing over them everyday and have needed continuous repair and patching since they were first installed back in 2009.

But beyond just a more resilient replacement, Asst. City Manager David Junger also mentioned that the city is doing a “tandem art project” that would make the crosswalks more visible with “creative, colorful” designs.  Mr. Junger referenced a Fort Lauderdale crosswalk (see photo to the right) from the traffic calming work session presentation earlier in the evening.

Decatur Streets Scheduled For Repaving

After evaluating the city’s streets and reviewing complaints and inquires from residents, the City of Decatur’s Asst. City Manager David Junger recommended at last Monday’s meeting the following streets be included under the next two years under GDOT’s Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant.

2013

  • Parkside Circle
  • Drexel Avenue
  • East Ponce de Leon Avenue from Commerce Drive to Sycamore Drive
  • Chevelle Lane from City Limit to the end of the street

2014

  • Forkner Drive from Church Street to Sycamore Drive
  • Kirk Road from South Columbia Drive to Avery Street (Note: the southerly lane from South Columbia Drive to Oldfield Road has been redone by Atlanta Gas Company during a recent gas main installation project.)
  • Madison Avenue from Johnston Place to end of the street
  • Nelson Ferry Road from West Ponce de Leon Avenue To Scott Boulevard