Archive for Thursday, December 2, 2010

Town Talk: Trash talk set to come to Lawrence City Hall; curbside recycling discussion also on tap; Lawrence citizen survey moving ahead

December 2, 2010


News and notes from around town:

• A major discussion on the future of the city’s trash service is beginning to take shape at Lawrence City Hall. One word is sure to be mentioned frequently: Carts. A new report by city staff members spells out three options for the city’s residential trash service. Two of the three options involve residents being required to rent plastic trash carts rather than using bags or traditional trash cans. The move to carts would allow the city to begin using fully automated trash trucks — possibly the kind with a robotic-like arm that is controlled by the truck’s driver.

Fully automated trucks also will create a major discussion about city jobs. Most fully automated truck systems require only a driver. Currently, most city trash trucks operate with a crew of two to three people. The report, though, does highlight one major problem with the use of fully automated trucks throughout Lawrence — parking. The reports suggests on-street parking practices would have to be changed in many neighborhoods in order for fully automated trucks to work. The report offers a second option of fully automated trucks in many areas of the city but more traditional trash trucks in other neighborhoods where on-street parking is critical.

The report also gives a glimpse at how a cart system may look. The city has investigated three sizes of carts: 35 gallon, 65 gallon and 95 gallon. Theoretically, people who rent a 35 gallon cart would be charged less than people who rent a 95 gallon cart. That has been a goal of many members of the city’s Sustainability Advisory Board, who believe people who produce less trash should pay a lower fee.

The report does not go into any detail on how the city could privatize its trash service, but that’s an option commissioners have said may be discussed.

There’s no word yet on when the City Commission will begin discussing the report’s options. Meetings with neighborhood groups and other stakeholder groups are expected. But expect action sooner rather than later because several current commissioners likely will want to tackle this issue before the April election.

• The report also discusses options for curbside recycling in the city. On that issue, commissioners likely will have to decide whether to allow curbside recycling to be done by the private sector — including trash giant Deffenbaugh Industries — or to make curbside recycling a city service. If the city decides to run its own curbside recycling service, figuring out how to handle the collected recyclables will be a big issue. The report says the city could build its own material recovery facility, which would allow the city to process the recyclables and then sell them on the open market. A second option is for the city to build a transfer station, which would allow recyclables to be consolidated and loaded into semi-trucks that would take the material to a privately owned processing facility. A third option would be for sanitation crews to drive their trucks directly to a privately operated processing center. Currently, the closest processing center is 35 miles away in Kansas City. Commissioners likely will ask for more information related to costs for each of those options.

• Lawrence residents likely will get a chance to weigh in on a host of topics as part of a formal city survey. Staff members are distributing a request for proposals for a new Citizen Survey. The city last conducted a scientific survey of the populace in 2007. The city’s current budget has $30,000 in it to conduct a survey. Proposals from survey firms are expected to be received by the end of the year. The 2007 survey found 72 percent of citizens were satisfied with the overall quality of city services. Services that ranked high included: fire; trash and yardwaste; parks and recreation; police, and water and sewer. Services that ranked low included: maintenance of streets and infrastructure; management of traffic flow and congestion; and planning and development services. The full survey results can be found here.

What town talk are you hearing? Send me a tip at


HollisBrown 7 years, 3 months ago

Rent a cart, my ass. I'd buy one, but forget renting. Good luck getting people to park in regard to trash pickup. And I'll recycle when they pry my cold, dead hands from around my trash can. It looks like the city will be doing some "rightsizing", too. Great.

hooligan01 7 years, 3 months ago

Can we just turn everything over the Deffenbaugh or WM. I have a feeling they can make it work better than the city can.

deec 7 years, 3 months ago

Those big carts are a scam by the trash industry. They're ugly and heavy and difficult for elderly people to move. Both Hays and the small town I live in now use them. The robotic trucks need I think 3 feet of clearance on all sides to work. In Hays they did a massive clearcutting along the alleys to accommodate the garbage trucks.

pace 7 years, 3 months ago

You must never of been under Deffenbaugh's thumb. They are hooligans. Not a handshake deal kind of company. The city except for a couple of bad choices of supervisors have done pretty good. You will get a great offer from Deffenbaugh, so good it will be hard to believe. MMMM

I like carts, I like curbside recycling. I would limit the materials collected and go for the transfer station. Paper, boards, metal, good beginnings, fairly stable markets and no super costs to collection.. Put off plastics and glass, some of those collections costs are sky high and the markets are very unstable.

I have worked with Deffenbaugh in two states. i would not turn over the cty trash collection to them. Trash is more important than many people think. We were at least able to get rid of the no nothing that didn't know how to run trucks or even schedule hauling. Costs are going up, at landfills and for hauling. We get Deffenbaugh and we will end up dreaming about the good old days when trash got picked up on a regular basis and you could call and complain to someone .
On another point, my trash crew has been great. For the holidays, should I give them an envelop with three 10s in it or three gift certificates.? My neighbor said a 6 pack but I don't give beer to people who drive. I am giving cookies to my postman. Appreciate those that serve.

Andrew Reeves 7 years, 3 months ago

I live in Overland Park and I am "under Deffenbaugh's thumb". I haven't had any complaints with their service. The cost is fair (about 50 for three months, that includes a three dollar fee for recycling each month). When I called and set up service, when I first moved here, they seemed pretty nice and professional. They may be an evil corporation, I couldn't say, but my service has been fine.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Perhaps you should consider living somewhere else.

kernal 7 years, 3 months ago

Jaf, I wonder what's keeping them here? Ankle bracelets? Invisable shields?

grimpeur 7 years, 3 months ago

"maintenance of streets and infrastructure; management of traffic flow and congestion"

No kidding. Too bad the survey didn't include questions like these:

"Why do you think the streets are in such bad shape?" "Why do you think there is traffic congestion?" "What should the city do to improve traffic flow and street conditions?"

I wonder how many respondents would recognize their own personal choices as the primary causes of their complaints.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago


Because your "right" to throw away as much trash as you please is more important than the effects of your actions on the environment.

Do you tell all of your friends to "shut the hell up"? You must be a great friend.

monkeyhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the chuckle.

It is imperative to recycle here in my winter home. I find it fairly easy except on a windy day like yesterday when you have to pick up all the crap that blows out of the bins a couple of times before the guys get here. Sometimes I even feel good about it until I hear the stories on local news that all the stuff I have separated gets dumped in the same place in the landfill as the trash.

Betty Bartholomew 7 years, 3 months ago

I like the two- to three-man crews they've got now - if the ones in my area of town are stopped on a hill, they'll wave people around if there's no on-coming traffic. Can't picture an automated-truck driver being able to do that and get the trash.

James Mullins 7 years, 3 months ago

The world of the government providing all of the services is long past. Privatization is coming because it saves the taxpayers' dollars. Government should use the "Yellow Page" test. If some private company is providing a service that the city needs it is less costly for a private contractor rather the the government entity to provide the same service. Governments role is not to provide all services but to see that they are provided.

somedude20 7 years, 3 months ago

When I lived in Hawaii, we use to save up our trash and rent a boat so that we could dump the trash in the ocean. I think landfills are barbaric and take up so much space, space that would be better used for a golf course or a cemetery. Besides, fish love snacking on our leftovers and they can also use the plastics to make a nest under the ocean and stuff. Be greener and dump in the ocean

Frank A Janzen 7 years, 3 months ago

So you contributed to that vast mass of trash that circulates in the Pacific Ocean? Killing fish and other sealife?

somedude20 7 years, 3 months ago

there is no proof that trash killed those fishy evil doers rather it could have been old age or suicide (or maybe they drowned)

Andrew Reeves 7 years, 3 months ago

My pet fish committed suicide when I was a kid. It was sad. He was an honorable fishy, however. He left a note. It read..... "Please send more trash to my friends in the ocean! You humans are such cruel, greedy animals keeping your trash to yourselves! This makes me so depressed."
I didn't know that a fish could hang him/herself from a decorative castle in the bottom of a fishbowl.

somedude20 7 years, 3 months ago

Thanks! Don't be going around thugging and robbing for the $200,000-$300,000 you are going to need to buy the hand-written "hand-written lyrics to the 1960s anthem "The Times They Are A-Changin" will hit the auction block next month and could sell for more than a quarter-million dollars, Sotheby's said on Tuesday"

irvan moore 7 years, 3 months ago

if they privatize costs to us will go up but I do like the idea of getting all those cars parked in the streets gone. a little off topic but why don't we have snow routes on Tennessee and Kentucky streets and tow the cars left there over Christmas break and during big snow storms that cause the streets to be poorly plowed?

gatekeeper 7 years, 3 months ago

How about the fact that the older neighborhoods don't have big driveways and there's no place else to park. good grief, that's your b*tch?

Boston_Corbett 7 years, 3 months ago

Deffenbaugh may not be organized crime, but they act like it. Read around.

Frank A Janzen 7 years, 3 months ago

In San Jose, California, this automated system has been in use for many years and it works fine. The carts have rear wheels. You just wheel it to the curb on the appointed day, and the truck comes by, picks it up, shakes the trash into the truck, and drops the cart back on the ground. No problem.

gatekeeper 7 years, 3 months ago

How about those of us that couldn't even fill a 35 gallon cart and just need one little bag of trash a week? We get ripped off. This is just b.s. they need to charge according to how much trash you really put out.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Much has changed, but much remains the same.

We have continued to overpopulate the planet, and increased our pollution and destruction of the environment.

Some of us still care, and others don't, as evidenced by your posts.

The big problem is that those who don't care can ruin it for those who do.

If all the "I don't care" folks could and would simply move together somewhere so that their attitudes and actions didn't affect anything for the rest of us, I'd be glad to see that.

somedude20 7 years, 3 months ago

Tipper Gore makes Dee Snider look like Christina Hendricks...Stay Hungry

Andrew Reeves 7 years, 3 months ago

You might want to change your profile picture.

pace 7 years, 3 months ago

There is something to be said for a person who takes no personal responsibility for their acts. When they say but mom it is the fashion. I am not responsible for what I do or think, it is a fad and that is all there is to me. That something to be said is one may not be able to reach their mind or feeling with argument. Other people are different, No matter the times there are some who are responsible thinking adults. Thank god for them. They probably feel alone some times.

Steve Jacob 7 years, 3 months ago

The way trash is picked up now is great, they do a great job, they take stuff most would not, I have never been missed, and have never seen a garbage man strike. If we have to pay more for piece of mind, so be it.

And don't forget wilbur's augment about dealing with the students extra junk.

madameX 7 years, 3 months ago

There are like ten private companies that do curbside recycling for a very reasonable cost (I recommend Sunflower!). If people want the service they can get it. If they don't care then I wish they did but adding the city to the list is not going to make them. There's no need for this.

pizzapete 7 years, 3 months ago

The system we have in place is working just fine, why change it? No way am I going to rent a cart to put my trash in.

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