Let me explain.
As March turns to February – I mean April (but have you looked at the weather lately?) – yard waste collection begins anew for the gardening and yard care season in our fair hamlet of Bolingbrook. We are at a crossroads, asking whether we are to be, or not to be, a community that has toters for our refuse.
What is a toter you might ask? Let’s let our waste management firm, Groot Industries; here’s a link to the web page describing their service to Bolingbrook. “Refuse: Refuse may be placed in bags only, that are no larger than 32 gallon and may not exceed a total weight when filled of 60 pounds for weekly collection.” Oh, wait, that’s not about toters; we use garbage bags at the curb. And why is that? See this article from the Chicago Tribune in 2012. According to our mayor, “the village denied a request by Groot for residents to use large garbage toters for recycling. ‘Some of our older (smaller) homes don’t have a place to store them,” said Claar. “I’ve driven in communities and found that people leave them in front of their garage or driveway. I think that is unsightly. I want to keep our streetscape looking nice.’”
Some public discussion arguing against adopting the toters includes concerns about elderly residents who may have difficulty maneuvering the units, additional costs incurred for their use, and the fact that there are already residents who don’t bring their current recycling units back up from the curb in a timely manner – how much more unsightly would it be if the larger carts sat curbside for a long time?
Some people think that stinks.
The topic has resurfaced in the village, and it was a part of the campaign platform of Bolingbrook United and its candidates for village offices. After residents continued to contact the village about reopening the discussion of whether to use the rolling carts or not (including featuring them as entries in the Pathways Parade to highlight their ease of use), a meeting was held on March 26 (video here) to disseminate information about what changes might occur if the toters were used and to give residents an opportunity to respond and provide input. According to Village Trustee Bob Jaskiewicz, the results of the public forum on the 26th were discussed at the regular Village Board meeting on the 27th, but no decisions have yet been made other than the mayor has stated that he will be transferring the cost of trash removal to each household. Currently the trash pick up is paid for out of the fund that receives your property tax collection. This change is being proposed regardless of whether or not we switch to toters. So if approved each owner will see a quarterly bill of approximately $60 or $240 per year in addition to current property tax.
There are many residents who support the use of the toters; their arguments include the fact that the (current) open-topped recycle bins often distribute their contents to neighbors and beyond whenever the wind whips up the wrong way, a much more common problem with unsightliness. Additionally, with garbage being protected only by a plastic bag, roaming animals, wild, domestic, and feral, are sometimes drawn to the bags’ contents and make a mess – and make a racket while doing it. They also note that the actual collection process is faster and cleaner, as the trucks used for the toters pick up and dump the units without the driver having to leave the cab.
The conversation continues, so if you have strong feelings one way or the other on the issue, be sure to reach out to the village officials driving the decisions. They are the ones who are supposed to be representing your interests, but they can’t do that if they don’t know what those interests are.
Oh, and if you want to see what these toters are, just drive outside of the village limits – as many of our surrounding neighbors are already using them. You may have even already seen them and just don’t know it.