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Trustees Ponder Revisions to Sanitation Pick-Up and Recycling Program as well as LED Streetlights

CACThe Scarsdale Board of Trustees kicked off a busy evening this past Tuesday by hearing recommendations on how the village can further its conservation efforts and save money in the process. Specifically, the Scarsdale Sustainability and Municipal Services Committees reviewed proposals on modifications to Scarsdale's sanitation and recycling operations and LED street lighting.

Sanitation Operations Study/Increasing Recycling

The Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) presented an in depth "Sanitation Study," which identified service and operations improvements, and ways to increase recycling while reducing trash.

The analysis shows that Scarsdale already boasts one of the highest levels of sanitation services and recycling rates in Westchester County. In 2016, our residents generated just over 19,000 tons of waste and 65 percent of it was recycled. However, the recycling rate was, and continues to be, driven by the village's high percentage of yard waste, rather than commingled or paper recyclables. In addressing Scarsdale's Municipal Services Committee, CAC Chairman Ron Schulhof reported, "We're doing an amazing job... but we want our recycling rate to be higher and we looked for areas that we could improve."

While we may be doing an amazing job, it isn't easy. Commingled and paper recyclables are picked up every other week; residents have trouble storing two-weeks worth of recyclables and end up throwing some in the trash; and, many cannot get to the recycling center to dispose of food scraps. As a result, Scarsdale still disposes of approximately 6,600 tons of trash each year (40 pounds per household each week), which is incinerated at a cost of $28 per ton. So, addressing items that are recyclable or can be donated will continue the village's efforts to reduce total trash, improve the environment and reduce cost.

Based on its research and close collaboration with the Scarsdale Sanitation Department, and to expand recycling efforts, the CAC recommended three additions to sanitation services:

• Increase the frequency of commingled and paper recycling pickup to once per week;
• Launch weekly curbside pickup of food scraps for recycling; and
• Site a furniture donation container at the Scarsdale Recycling Center.

The committee believes these services will make it easier for residents to recycle, reduce the amount of space they need to store recyclables, and offer more recycling options, while providing the village with significant savings.

However, to implement these additional services and avoid large costs, two changes are required:

• Commingled recycling pick up will move to the curb (as paper recycling is now); and,recyclingcan
• Pickups that fall on a holiday will not be rescheduled during that week.

The CAC also recommends trash, yard waste or leaf collection service remain the same.

While the estimated cost of the proposed changes is projected to be between $13,000 and $26,000, it is expected that, by reducing trash, the village will reduce its disposal fees. In addition, the committee advises a capital investment of $3,500 to add a furniture donation container, through a partnership with Furniture Warehouse, a local nonprofit.

In addressing the proposed changes, Schulhof outlined a number of benefits. "Recycling weekly will alleviate residents' storage and it's going to reduce the amount of handling. at the metrics, comparable communities that pick up weekly have higher recycling rates." With regard to food scraps, Schulhof stated, "We know that while the drop off site has been successful, not all residents can participate at the drop off site. Picking up (food scraps) will open this program, in practical terms, to a much higher percentage of residents." About furniture donation, Schulhof explained, "When you donate furniture now, you have to drive it some distance or wait for a truck to pick it up. By having a drop off site here, not just for large pieces but for an end table or mirror, you provide convenience for residents and support those in need."

Superintendent Salanditro said, "The information in this report is extremely accurate and we can support the CAC's recommendations through our existing operations. The more methods we implement to increase recycling, the better." He also indicated that less trash will translate into lower disposal fees for the village. "I think that we'll see a drastic decrease in our overall weights through increased food scrap recycling and reuse of furniture." He continued, "That's where the weight is. The metrics work in our favor when we reduce municipal solid waste components. "

While the trustees were impressed with the committee's report and recommendations, there were concerns about residents' reactions to service changes. Trustee Carl Finger mentioned, "When the public learns that we're considering these recommendations, I think it's important that we get some feedback." He went on, "I'm a little concerned about ... people saying 'I like my services. I don't want any change to my services.'" Trustee Deborah Pekarek, while supportive of the CAC's recommendations, agreed with Finger, "The need for some kind of public discussion is real. Although we're giving a lot, we are taking something."

Trustee Seth Ross supported the recommendations, stating, "It appears that the cost is slight and that the risk is very small. Any of the measures being taken can be modified or reversed if the program isn't working as planned. These are major factors in helping the board to support this proposal."

Mayor Dan Hochvert, also in favor of the recommendations, congratulated the CAC and village staff on its work, stating, "The best thing about this report is that it is the closest collaboration between an advisory council and staff. It's a great report."

Bob Harrison of Fox Meadow Road, said, " Being in my 70s, (this) is not an improvement in service, it's a reduction. I've now got to lug recyclables out to the street, when, today, the sanitation person comes down my driveway. I support recycling but I'm very concerned. I think you've got to hear from the entire community."

The Municipal Services Committee supported the CAC's recommendations and proposed further review by the Scarsdale Board of Trustees. It is expected that the board will request a public information session to obtain community feedback and address questions.

LED Streetlight Project

The Ad Hoc Committee on LED Streetlights presented an update on the recently concluded LED streetlight pilot, which covered both high traffic and residential roads throughout the village. The study found that LED lighting will help Scarsdale reduce energy use, lower its electric and maintenance costs and improve lighting.

The committee recommended moving forward with replacing streetlights at those locations that were tested over the past three months. New LED fixtures would be installed on "high traffic" roads: White Plains/Post Road, Mamaroneck Road, Weaver Street and Heathcote Road (between Post Road and Five Corners); and new LED bulbs would be installed on residential streets within Crane-Berkeley and Secor Farms, to preserve the current, decorative "Town and Country" fixtures.

In total, 301 streetlights would be replaced, or 15 percent of the 1,976 streetlights in Scarsdale. The committee also plans to continue research for streetlights on residential roads in preparation for a residential road pilot planned for summer 2018.

While the upfront cost of installing these fixtures is approximately $60,000, projected savings is estimated at $25,000 (resulting in a short payback period of 2.8 years). The village will be able to realize additional cost savings by using in-house personnel to install the fixtures, rather than outsourcing the work. According to Benny Salanitro, Scarsdale Superintendent of Public Works, "Installation (of pilot fixtures) was smooth and relatively straightforward. These fixtures happen to be available through a 'piggyback' program we have with Hempstead (NY), so we'll be able to purchase them quickly should we decide to move forward."

Because the village has available funds in the current year's capital budget to cover the cost of the new lighting, the Scarsdale Sustainability Committee approved the recommendations and directed staff to proceed with purchase and installation.

Laura Halligan is a Scarsdale-based writer, editor and marketing consultant. She is principal of Pinch Hit Prose and provides communications services to entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits.


-3 #18 Walworth Avenue 2017-12-23 13:49
Thank you to the Conservation Advisory Council for the sanitation study. Weekly recyclables pickup seems advisable. From the perspective of our household, regular trash pickup can be cut back from twice per week to once per week. Hopefully this recommendation can be considered with the possibility of decreasing overall sanitation department costs (newly non tax deductible property taxes) or to potentially offset costs of back of driveway / near house recyclables pickup.
+5 #17 Comparable Communities? 2017-12-22 16:13
"Comparable communities that pick up weekly have higher recycling rates"

Here's the fly in this ointment. The so called comparable communities CAC Chairman Ron Schulhof cites likely didn't have "on property" collection like Scarsdale has. This program may result in less recycling when people don't want to take their recycling to the curb.

But for giggles assume I'm wrong. Why does Mr. Schulhof assume collection will go up, let alone enough to justify disposal rate reductions when this program isn't an increase in services, but a tradeoff in services: greater frequency, but more homeowner effort bringing the can to the curb?.

I say the program that benefits us most with the least amount of homeowner work (i.e. encouraging recycling) is.. on property collection once every 3 weeks, with the larger wheeled garbage can of this article. Recycling compacts extremely well (empty bottles) and the garbage trucks can handle this.
+2 #16 Ignorant Complainer 2017-12-22 11:25
Quoting FM Parent:
I can’t believe that people do not want weekly recycling. It would be such a great thing! I work and order my groceries from Fresh Direct. The boxes fill my garage. Being able to empty out weekly would be a real benefit.


Want isn't the issue. Rather "need" is. "Need" that properly balances the obligations of government and resident fairly, that efficiently (personnel, fuel, garbage truck wear and tear) recycles in a manner that minimizes the emission of greenhouse gases (garbage trucks), all while increasing collection tonnage.

And even if this was examined in the selfish need of solely the resident, you seem to have missed that this proposal isn't an increase in services so much as a tradeoff. To wit: you will more frequently walk your recyclable to the curb, before you less frequently put them outside your garage, on your property.
-9 #15 To Bob & our Elderly 2017-12-19 15:56
Bob Harrison: you have served Scarsdale well over many years and have my gratitude, in additional to the other 10583 seniors who served as custodians for the fine school system and Village you provided for us school age children folk. I certainly prefer a community not limited to the age demographic of K-12 families, and hope I can be a responsible custodian now that its my turn.

But that said, a recycling can on wheels, as pictured above, and as mentioned prior, should solve your problems and allow quicker curbside cleanup, less frequently, both of which save money for all.

The reality is that age and homeownership is not a dilemma exclusive to Scarsdale. There comes a time when the work of home ownership, if too arduous for the owner, needs to be, at least in 10583, where most of us don't cry poverty, turfed to others or find owners moving to living situations more appropriate to their reduced mobility.

For the rest of the world, and some Scarsdalians, I don't seek to create policy that forces the elderly out of their homes, especially in reverse mortgage situations, but balance needs to be struck between 10583's mobility reduced population and all its taxpayers.
+7 #14 Taxpayer 2017-12-18 20:25
I am surprised to see LED lights in White Plains, Harstdale, ... and still nothing in Scarsdale. How many months or years do we need to take a decision on an investment that is returning value after less than 3 years. Cannot we piggy back the light cold and warmth from those cities and proceed?
+17 #13 Beth Stein 2017-12-18 07:43
All these sustainability initiatives are interesting, yet they are outweighted by the pollutants of big cars, swimming pools and tennis courts of many residents.
+20 #12 Bob Harrison 2017-12-17 22:50
Over 56 % of Scarsdale residents do not have children in the school system and should be considered empty nesters . Our residents who have stayed in Scarsdale and paid our high taxes
need to have their recycle bins continued to be picked up at their house versus being forced to drag their bins to the curb.
IAny change would be a negative for the health and welfare of
many of our residents. In addition can you imagine empty recycle bins at the curb after pickup being blown around in the winter wind during the day until a resident returns home after work . These empty bins will create negative street conditions. We urge residents to tell our Village Board to
maintain the long time current service of house pickup of
our recycle bins . You can send an email to the Board at
0 #11 Heathcote parent 2017-12-16 18:40
I'm a huge proponent of doing what's environmentally responsible but I do have one concern with curbside pickup of comingled recyclables. With cardboard/newsp aper curbside pickup, many homeowners put their recyclables out the day before so it sits overnight. For the most part, wild animals don't appear to be a problem bc the cardboard/newsp aper don't have food residue on them. However, with comingled recyclables (cans, bottles that previously held food, there will most likely be food residue odors which could attract wild animals, esp in the warmer months). If homeowners bring their comingled recyclables out the morning of pick up it may not be a problem but if we put it out the night before to avoid missing early pick ups and since it would take more time if it's brought to the curb, we could end up with raccoons and other animals making a big mess. Less likely to happen if it's collected by the house or secured well but a concern I have.

I agree with Greenacres that we should understand the magnitude of cost savings before doing this. May not be worth it. Personally I don't mind pickups just every other week.
+7 #10 Practical scarsdalianford a 2017-12-16 12:01
Quoting FM Parent:
I can’t believe that people do not want weekly recycling. It would be such a great thing! I work and order my groceries from Fresh Direct. The boxes fill my garage. Being able to empty out weekly would be a real benefit.

How about collapsing the boxes...easier to take out, takes less room, takes no time and is easier to take out.
+11 #9 Could it be 2017-12-15 19:21
That a primary reason for weekly pick up of recycling is that no one would want to keep two weeks worth of ever increasing foul-smelling food scraps in their home?

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