Some hurdles need to be cleared for recycling center in Cranberry

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By JUDITH O. ETZEL – Contributing writer

More details have emerged about a potential county-wide recycling center that may be located in Cranberry Township.

The effort to equip and open a full-service center was announced this week by the Venango County commissioners who said the county has applied for a $350,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The funds would pay for the development of a center and purchase of equipment.

“We have some hurdles and a major one is that Cranberry Township has no recycling ordinance,” said Erik Johnson, recycling and solid waste coordinator for Venango County, at a Cranberry Township supervisors meeting Thursday.

Johnson told the panel that the county has pinpointed a maintenance building owned by Cranberry Area School District as a potential site. It is located behind the Joe Taylor Ford dealership/garage along Route 257.

Negotiations are underway with school officials to sign a long-term lease for the building. The county’s cost to lease the facility would be used at a required 20 percent match in order to get the state grant, said Johnson.

“We targeted Cranberry because you provide a destination …, a reason for people to come here, especially with the big box stores,” said Johnson. “It all hinges on what the DEP is requiring and the award of the funding.”

In response to Johnson’s request for a township recycling ordinance, supervisors Harold Best, Fred Buckholtz and Jerry Brosius agreed to draw up an ordinance to meet the DEP requirement. The measure would be reviewed by the township’s Planning Commission and then revert to the supervisors for approval.

Asked if there was a time limitation, Johnson said the supervisors’ move to draw up and adopt an ordinance would be sufficient evidence for the DEP that such a policy is in the process of being adopted.

Recycling options expanded

Here are some particulars about the proposed recycling center:

– Oil City and Franklin would retain their curbside recycling collections provided by a private company, said Johnson.

Cranberry Township has several bins for plastic, paper and metal recyclables located at the township office.

“You are paying for those bins … (and) we’re trying to alleviate that burden,” said Johnson.

In the past, there were similar bins located in Cherrytree, Cornplanter, Sandycreek and a few other sites, said Johnson.

“Those have closed and we’re trying to fill that need,” he said, adding the new center would be open to all Venango County residents.

– The new center would offer more than recycling methods for plastic, metal and paper.

“This won’t just be the normal recycling. It will be for hard-to-recycle items as well as chemicals, tires, electronics,” said Johnson, adding that the county provides a collection point for those items on a quarterly basis. “This would be done more often.”

– The recycling center would have outdoor bins surrounded by a fence and have lighting as well as surveillance cameras. A stormwater management plan would be followed to avoid any runoff of materials being recycled.

– It would begin with access a few days a week and then expand to more days.

“It will be a manned facility (by the county) … to keep the illegal dumping minimal,” he said. “Materials would be collected and stored and then a contractor would move it out. There would be a minimal fee charged, like now, for special collections, but no costs for glass, plastic and paper,” said Johnson.

– The timeline extends out several months. Johnson said the county should learn whether its grant application was successful within the next six to nine months. If the funding is received, the center must be built within a year.

– At least two other sites were considered for a county recycling center. There was a tract at the former industrial park near Gilmore Road in Cranberry Township but it was ruled out because it had no building on site, engineering costs were high and a major power line ran through the middle of the property, said Johnson.

The former Sears store at the Cranberry Mall was also an option but the retailer retains a long-term lease for the mall space, said Johnson.

– Access to the recycling center could be by way of Route 257 or a new access road installed from Salina Road behind the property.

“It is something we have to look at,” said Harold Best, chairman of the township supervisors.