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Council Extends Contract with Recycling Company Despite Litter Issues

Krakoviak opposes measure, says township should re-bid, resident complains about trash overflow

The vendor that runs the recycling facility at 590 Mt. Pleasant Ave. in West Orange will continue to work with the township for another year, after the township council voted to extend their contract Tuesday night. 

Reliable Woods, LLC was contracted in October 2008 to run the facility for three years and was given the option of two one-year extensions. Though the company has so far not incurred any violations at the West Orange facility, the resolution to extend their contract was met with stiff resistance. Members of the public complained about trash overflow and argued a new request for proposal could rake in more revenue for the township.

Resident Leigh Ann Zaolino, who lives across the street from the recycling facility, berated Reliable Woods. She said the vegetative-waste and wood-waste recycling company keeps the facility open after hours and has garbage piles so large they sometimes blow over to her home. 

"There is no excuse for that much garbage to be on that site," said Zaolino. "I'm impacted every single day by this." She said out-of-town residents often drop off their recyclables at the site, causing the overflow. "This is the only facility that does not question you if you live there, ask questions." 

The council openly admitted there was a littering problem but agreed the issue was not with the vendor. 

"At the end of the day, the dumpsters are going to be filled up, that's going to happen no matter what vendor you have," said Councilman Sal Anderton. He touted the work of Reliable Woods for transforming "the challenged site." "We are in a much better spot than we were three years ago," he said.  

Council President Patricia Spango who owns near the facility said she had also noticed the scattered debris. "There are residents that live there everyday that need to be considered," she said. "More than changing the company," she said the council should look at how they can work to clean up the site. 

David Norris, an attorney from Norris & Norris that represents S. Rotondi & Sons, Inc., a recycling company, advised the council during public comment that they consider a new request for proposal. He said the value for sites like the one in West Orange have risen. "Most likely you will make more money if you put it out to bid," Norris said. "Let the market do what it needs to do." 

The resolution passed in a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Joe Krakoviak voting 'no.' Though he agreed litter problems would be incurred by any vendor, he questioned whether it was in the interest of the township to put the contract out to bid again. 

He said there was a "potential" for the township to make more money off a new vendor. Under the current contract, Reliable Woods pays the township $7,500 a month to run the facility. Krakoviak said the county was receiving $12,500 a month — a 60 percent difference —  for similar services and that the township could possibly be leaving $54,000 a year off the table. 

Business Administrator Jack Sayers said it was not an "apples-to-apples" comparison and defended the administration's decision. Sayers said that unlike the county's vendors, Reliable Woods deals with both compost and recyclables, and offers free services to residents through the convenience center.

Residents can drop off electronics, propane tanks, tires, light bulbs, aluminum, glass, paper, leaves and tree parts in the convenience center. They can also pick up free mulch and wood chips, Sayers said. 

Citing the bid response, Krakoviak said that Reliable Woods had offered $7,500 for compost and convenience operations (the current contract). But, for just compost services, like the county facility, Reliable Woods offered $8,000 a month. Krakoviak said the $500 a month difference indicated the company did not place much difference between the two services and further suggested a potential revenue loss for the township without a new bid.

Anderton agreed with Krakoviak on principle but said the council should approve the contract for this year and consider new vendors the following year. 

Reliable Woods, LLC was the only bidder in 2008 when the request for proposal was sent out, Sayers said.

A representative from Reliable Woods was not present at the meeting. 

Ryan September 14, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Interesting article. I'm confused by the references to piles of garbage. I thought it was a recycling, not a trash, facility. Or is it loose items from the paper, plastic etc. recycling containers that is being referenced? It had always seemed strange to me that they don't ask for proof of residency. They could just issue stickers for people's cars.
Kevin September 15, 2011 at 11:50 AM
What is the negative of not turning someone away? Too much recycling for not enough space? The piles are the recycleables. It is still litter if it ends up all over the place.
Ryan September 15, 2011 at 12:47 PM
That's what someone in the article alleges -- outsiders are responsible for the overflow. No idea if it's true. If the operators don't track users by town, I doubt they have any idea either. Just seems odd that in a town where you need to show residence to get a library card or use the pool, the recycling facility asks no questions. Regardless of the cause, if the material is ending up all over the place the operators should be required to contain it better.
Sue Freivald September 15, 2011 at 04:48 PM
So, an attorney representing another recycling company advises asking for a new bid because the town may get more (a likely indication that his company would be willing to pay more to compete with the current vendor, I'd guess?), a councilman cites how another entity is already getting more from the very company we have now, and the rest of the Council says no, we're going to stick with getting the same amount from the same people without even entertaining any bids? Why? The article says nothing about the justification for this decision--what is the down side to asking for more bids, or the up side to extending with this vendor for another year at the same price? Also, it's interesting that the article notes "Though the company has so far not incurred any violations at the West Orange facility..." Why mention violations? Was it a topic at the meeting?
Leigh-Ann Zaolino September 16, 2011 at 12:06 AM
I have been asking for stickers on vehicles entering the facility since 2002. The resistence is ridiculous. The stickers could be mailed out with the tax bills, or the WO Outlook, or given to people when they come to the site. As for the reference to "trash" - yes it is recycling but by DEP's rules nothing may be on the ground, it must be in containers. Plastic bags and styrofoam are constantly blowing off site and all over Mt Pleasant. In addition, people illegally dump outside the gate when the site is closed and then animals rip open the bags and everything from newspapers to plastic bottles are up and down the street and on our property.
Leigh-Ann Zaolino September 16, 2011 at 12:08 AM
The negative is being ragged on by someone if you challenge them. My comment Tuesday night was if someone is illegally putting something in the containers call the police and municipal officials seemed horrified I said that... why?
Leigh-Ann Zaolino September 16, 2011 at 12:10 AM
The argument Tuesday night was it would be an inconvenience for residents to show proof they live here. I am with you, you can't use many facilities without proof of identification and this should be no different. The only one's who will be ticked off are the one's who don't live here.
Leigh-Ann Zaolino September 16, 2011 at 12:14 AM
The company has incurred violations but not recently and I was the one who brought that up because it was an important part f the dialogue with the old vendor. It was brought up as a compliment for this vendor not a dig. There are not a lot of options in this department Sue, trust me I know! It was odd that another vendor appeared out of the blue Tuesday evening especially since that vendor had the option to bid on the contract in 2008 and did not so I have no idea what that was about. My reason for going was to remind the council this is a business in a residential neighborhood and after 7-years they (the town and the vendor) have become too lax, they have pushed and stretched beyond and forget Summit St. has apartments on their side yard and a nursing home and then there are those of us opposite the facility and on their other side yard. Just be a good neightbor, is that too much to ask?
Leigh-Ann Zaolino September 16, 2011 at 12:28 AM
I forgot to mention the site is 28-acres - space is not the issue
Leigh-Ann Zaolino September 16, 2011 at 12:41 AM
One thing important to note is the Administration attempted to discredit me by stating the over flow was due to Tropical Storm Irene (it WAS downgraded when it hit land). Any assertion that this amount of rubbish on the site and in our neighborhood is an isolated incident related to Irene is bald face lie. It's been going on for over a year, we have complained to the vendor and to municpal officials responsible for the site to no avail thus the need to go public. If anyone thinks for one minute I enjoy being labled the woman who lives across the street from the town dump you are nuts. I do not need to be in the spotlight! I have to protect the value of my home and I will never shut up about this problem as long as it exists and I live here.
Leigh-Ann Zaolino September 16, 2011 at 02:53 PM
NEWS FLASH - there is a rumor being circulated once again that I am working for Rotondi or secretly trying to help his company get the contract at the Recycling Center. Nothing could be further from the truth. Keep spinning that lie and you will be faced with a defamation action. You know who you are... and so do I.

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