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.