SCOTCH PLAINS — Last week’s recycling pick-up snafu was the result of a contractual dispute the weekend before the normal Monday and Tuesday pickups were scheduled to take place, according to Township Manager Al Mirabella.
Recycle Track Systems LLC (RTS) began collecting recyclable materials, first on a biweekly basis and then on a weekly basis, two years ago. Mr. Mirabella told the township council at its meeting March 7 that municipal officials were under the impression that “we exercised the third year” of that contract, but “they disagreed.” As a result, recycling put out on the south side for pickup on Monday remained uncollected, while north-side residents who were unaware of the pick-up problems then placed their recycling out for a Tuesday pickup that never materialized. Windy conditions during the day on Tuesday led to boxes and other paper products being blown into the streets along with cans, bottles and other plastic materials from knocked-over recycling bins, creating messy conditions throughout the township.
Mr. Mirabella said that, “in the interest of getting back on the road”— and avoiding litigation with RTS that he said could take “months or years” to resolve — he declared an emergency and entered into a short-term contract with Grand Sanitation for $38,000 per month, an arrangement that will remain in effect until bids are received for a more long-term contract. Mr. Mirabella said he spoke to the town administrator in Westfield, which uses Grand Sanitation, and reported that he had heard “nothing but high praise” for the company.
Grand Sanitation spent last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday collecting recycling from all areas of town before it reverts to a biweekly pick-up schedule. Mr. Mirabella said that, when bids for a longer-term arrangement are sought, if a weekly pick-up is affordable, he would pursue it, but for now, biweekly pickups are what is expected. The manager also praised the “remarkable” team effort among township staff in quickly resolving the recycling pick-up issue.
In other business at last week’s meeting — which was dominated for the first two-plus hours by a discussion of the possible turfing of the baseball field at Brookside Park — Mayor Joshua Losardo said he is talking with Rep. Thomas Kean, Jr. about whether some of the $626,000 federal grant awarded to the township to repair the Tempe covered bridge on Clover Lane can be used to assist refurbishments at some of the historic sites in town, such as the Frazee House and Shady Rest clubhouse, that are still undergoing renovations.
It is unlikely that the bridge, which was built in 1969 and closed to the public four years ago after being declared unsafe, will be able to be repaired, according to Mr. Mirabella. He said restoration will be “very difficult” given that “the footings are off-center” and “the wood is rotting,” adding that there is “nothing historic about that bridge.” Instead, it is probable that it will be removed and replaced with a new crossing that will provide safe access for children walking to and from school. But the $626,000 grant, announced late last year by then-Rep. Tom Malinowski, “may be more than we need” to address the bridge, Mr. Mirabella said, leading to discussions about diverting some of those funds to other historic projects.