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City stresses allowable uses

ABOVE: The Yard Waste Recycling Site for the city of Fairmont and its residents. The city is trying to get the message out about allowable uses at the site.

FAIRMONT– Fairmont’s yard waste recycling site has been around for a few decades and while a valuable asset for both the city and its residents, proper usage of the site needs to be heeded.

Public Works Director, Matthew York, explained the purpose of the site, which most communities have something similar to.

“It’s a site for the city to dispose of tree debris and leaf debris. It’s also for residential use and we have private sector businesses that get a permit that are allowed to use the site,” said York.

The yard waste recycling site, located at 1880 100th St., is actually split into two parts. The east half of the area is for tree debris and the other half is for compost.

On the tree side, Street and Park Superintendent, Nick Lardy, said that woody material, like trees, tree branches and sticks are allowed, but no stumps as the contractors can’t grind them.

“A lot of times they have rocks imbedded in the root ball,” Lardy explained.

On the compost side, leaves, plant debris and yard waste is allowed.

“Anything that’s not compostable or a woody material is illegal,” said York.

Unfortunately, Lardy said that large, unallowed material like tires, furniture and trash have been left out there.

“That practice of illegal dumping is what will close it down. We’ve had real messes out there that have taken a lot of manpower to clean up,” Lardy said.

The dump is open 24 hours a day and it’s typically seasonal from April through November. However, this past year it was open year-round for two reasons.

“We didn’t close the facility this past year due to the mild temperature and Emerald Ash Borer to allow people to continue to use it for the Emerald Ash Borer mainly, which has caused far more material out there,” Lardy said.

Lardy pointed out that the city removed nearly 1,000 trees in the last year, all of which ended up at the yard waste recycling site. This year alone, the city has hauled out over 5,000 cubic yards of material that was ground this spring.

On Monday the Fairmont City Council discussed a purchase order with Shamrock Recycling in an amount not to exceed $65,000 for additional grinding and chip removal services.

To dispose of the tree material at the site, the tree debris is ground and turned into chips or mulch or if it’s logged, the logs can either be hauled out or burned.

The last burn that took place at the site was in 2021. No burnings have taken place since then because York said with the logistics of the area, a burn area can’t be made until some of the other material, such as the leaves and other compostable materials, can be moved away.

“Right now we have stacks and stacks of material. We have to make the site feasible for burning and currently is it not,” York said.

He elaborated on that and said that there is an excess of material on the site, which is more than the city can dispose of efficiently.

However, the cost to purchase a grinder is $750,000 to $1 million, and they require a lot of maintenance.

“For every five days that we grind, it would probably be offline for two days due to maintenance,” York explained.

For that reason, the city believes it is more cost effective and efficient to go with a contractor, such as Shamrock. The city is just coming out of a five year contract with Shamrock but on Monday approved a one year contract because the city is working on evaluating a plan to clean up the area.

“In case we get it ready for a burn we don’t want to be locked into a contract,” Lardy said.

Right now there are two piles, one of woodchips which the city has produced, and a compost pile that has been screened and is ready for use. The public is welcome to go in and use buckets to haul out the chips and compost for their own landscaping and gardens.

“If anybody needs larger quantities, we can assist with big loads if needed,” Lardy said.

Lardy and York with stressed that in order to continue to keep the yard waste recycling site open to the public, proper use must be followed and that it’s only intended to be used by Fairmont residents.

“It’s paid for by the city of Fairmont and its residents,” York said.

He added that the site is for Fairmont utility customers, as a $3 monthly fee is on their bill that pays for the maintenance of the site.

“The cost of tree removal is expensive. By providing this service for our contractors, it reduces the amount they should be charging residents for disposal. We need to all play nice in the sandbox so we can continue to provide the service,” York said.

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