Don’t call it a recycling plant. It’s a recycling center. There’s a big difference, say Collier County officials.
“Our recycling centers are simply collection centers. We store (materials) until the vendor takes it away,” said county spokeswoman Margie Hapke before the Friday evening meeting at Golden Gate Community Center.
“A plant is where (one) processes the materials, preparing everything to go to an end user. We don’t do any processing at all.”
Some Collier residents expressed alarm last month when they heard that a recycling center will be built off of Santa Barbara Boulevard, near Calusa Park Elementary School.
The proposed 8-acre site is currently zoned for residential use, not industrial, said Gina Russen, the mother of two children who attend Calusa Park Elementary.
“Nobody’s against the recycling center. It’s just the location,” Russen said. “The location should be in an industrial area.”
Russen has lived in the neighborhood for about six years and is concerned about toxins and excessive traffic.
Paint thinners, light bulbs, batteries and pesticides are some items that are sent to recycling centers.
Rodriguez spoke, at length, about containment of potentially toxic or hazardous materials.
Jackie Brown, a 10-year-resident, has three children who attend Calusa Elementary. She was one of nine area residents who turned out for the session.
Brown has concerns about a constant stream of traffic pulling in and out of the recycling center complex.
One doesn’t want that much traffic near a school area, Brown said.
Rodriguez said the center will have its own entrance.
Also, Brown has a very real fear of child molesters. It is impossible to know who could be hanging around a site that is so close to a school, she said.
And what about the recycling center workers?
“I don’t know who they’re going to be hiring,” Brown said.
Hapke said there will be no odors, toxins or noise emanating from the site.
“Can they guarantee that?” Russen asked.
Prior to Friday’s community information meeting, Dan Rodriguez, director of the county’s Solid Waste Management department, said he’d received 33 e-mails.
All but four writers were satisfied with his explanation of the county’s plan, he said before the meeting.
“It won’t be any different than the recycling center on Marco Island,” Rodriguez said. To better educate concerned residents, Rodriguez will host two open houses at the Marco Island Recycling Center on Elkham Circle: one today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Both Hapke and Rodriguez understand that a lot of misinformation has been traveling through the neighborhood. So much so, that a proposed Sept. 29 recycling center approval before Collier County Commission was postponed until Rodriguez could coordinate a public outreach program.
Residents were mailed notices of Friday’s meeting, but Rossen claimed some of her neighbors never received them.
Hapke said the actual recycling plant is in Pembroke Pines in Broward County. She has a nine-minute video folks can watch if they go to the following online link: http://www.thinkgreen.com/video-recycling-single-stream.