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Albany Commission OKs curbside recycling

The Albany City Commission made decisions on curbside recycling and storm water drainage improvements at the work session on Tuesday.

The Albany City Commission made decisions on curbside recycling and storm water drainage improvements at the work session on Tuesday.

ALBANY, Ga. -- In late June, when Waste Pro waste management services sent out flyers to Albany residents outlining the company's plan to start curbside recycling in the city, city officials' response was immediate and pointed: Cease and desist.

When The Albany Herald ran a series of articles about Waste Pro's plan, some city officials admitted to being caught off-guard by the company's proposal.

But in the weeks since that story broke, Public Works Director Phil Roberson has been working with staff to put together a citywide curbside recycling plan, which he presented to the Albany City Commission at its work session Tuesday morning. After a brief discussion during which Roberson assured commissioners participation in the program would be voluntary, the commission unanimously approved the plan.

"I expect the cost will be somewhere around $5 to $6 a month, but it will not be on Water, Gas & Light bills," Roberson said in response to a question. "We expect to franchise the curbside recycling with the billing handled by the vendor. The city will have oversight of the process; we'll regulate it. But it will be a separate contract much like the one we have with Waste Industries for garbage pickup."

Commissioners were quick to laud the plan.

"I think it's a great idea; a city this size should have a recycling program," Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike said. "This is something I support. It's been a long time coming."

Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said she's excited about the "educational possibilities" inherent in such a program.

"It will give our citizens an opportunity to learn what can and can't be recycled," she said.

E.J. Kruger, the territory manager for Waste Pro who devised the plan to start curbside recycling in the city before being told he had to shut it down, said Tuesday he's excited to hear about the commission's 1vote.

"I guess the pain we went through paid off," Kruger said. "The response we got to our plan was overwhelmingly positive, so I guess it's time for me to start doing legwork now to see if we can earn the franchise.

"I kinda started this, and I want to finish it."

Also at Tuesday's meeting, the commission tentatively OK'd Oxford Construction Co.'s bid of $1,204,661 for storm water drainage improvements along Roosevelt, Haley, Residence and Cleveland streets in the city.

"This project is our first attempt to take some of the water (drainage problems) off the (overtaxed) Holloway System," City Engineer Bruce Maples said.

Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta offered his support for the project.

"This is essential to economic development in that area of the city," he said.

Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission President Ted Clem told the commission Albany and Dougherty County had issued $41 million in construction permits from January to June and had 46 active projects "in the pipeline." Both are significantly higher than the same period last year.

"The Job Investment Fund (approved by the city as a means to entice businesses growth in the community) is already having an impact on prospects here," Clem said during his report to the commission. "The state of Georgia sees it as an investment tool, and they hope to use it to bring a large manufacturer to our region."