Rural recycling dropoff location closed after illegal dumping; no timeline set for reopening or relocating

photo by: Douglas County

A barricade blocks access to a rural recycling dropoff location in Douglas County. The Vinland dropoff site, located south of Lawrence, has been temporarily closed because of multiple instances of illegal dumping.

Douglas County has temporarily closed a rural recycling dropoff site after multiple cases of illegal dumping.

The county has closed the Vinland Fair site parking lot location at 711 East 1750 Road. That’s one of four dropoff recycling locations in the county’s unincorporated areas. Vinland is situated south of Lawrence and north of Baldwin City.

A news release from the county on Friday states that this site has been a concern for “many months,” with windblown materials littering adjacent properties and roadways.

Another issue, according to the release, is the truckloads of trash, furniture, appliances and electronics that county crews have had to remove from the site.

The Douglas County website lists all the acceptable materials that can be placed in the dropoff bins, such as the typical recyclables of various plastics, paper, cardboard, aluminum and tin cans, glass bottles and jars.

One photo included with the release shows boxes and other waste piled in front of the dropoff bins. Another shows an overflowing bin with some items, including a toilet, placed outside it.

Kim Criner Ritchie, the county’s interim sustainability director, told the Journal-World Monday that the Vinland site is by far the busiest of the four recycling locations available in unincorporated Douglas County. Criner Ritchie said all of them have been busy since opening for use in 2015, though.

In 2020, pickups at the sites expanded from one to two per week. Criner Ritchie said the doubling was an attempt to meet the demand, which remains too high to keep up with.

“As evidenced by the use of the (Vinland) site, we know it’s a valued service and one that we want to continue to provide, but we want to do it right,” Criner Ritchie said. “We want to learn from what we’ve seen in this scenario. We’re trying to be as intentional as possible as well, to not hurry.”

Criner Ritchie said she wanted to be clear that these recycling locations are intended for residential purposes and shouldn’t be used by people crossing county lines or by businesses. She said she wasn’t sure, but those types of uses could be another factor adding to the already high demand.

With the most high-traffic site shuttered indefinitely, Criner Ritchie said the county would like to avoid a domino effect that leads to flooding the other sites, too. With that in mind, she said Baldwin City residents who use the Vinland site should use the city’s residential curbside recycling service as an alternative; that service costs $4.50 per month. The same goes for those who live in other areas, where curbside recycling or other recycling options might be available.

In an email response to the Journal-World, county spokesperson Karrey Britt encouraged those who reside in an unincorporated area of the county to use any of the other three sites that are available. The other dropoff bins are at Prairie Moon Waldorf School, 1853 East 1600 Road; Stull United Methodist Church, 1596 East 250 Road; and the former Wakarusa Valley School, 1104 East 1000 Road.

If the recycling bins are full, Britt said residents should wait until another day to leave their recycling. She said the county was currently working on increasing the number of recycling sites and bins available for use.

Criner Ritchie said it’s still too early to tell what the plan will end up being. She said the county hopes to address the issue as soon as possible.


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