New county recycling center moves forward

August 23, 2009
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The bonds were priced two weeks ago and groundbreaking was held last week. The only thing left on the to-do list is for the final construction bid to come in. At that point, the Kent County Department of Public Works can get on with building its new Recycling and Education Center.

DPW Director Doug Wood said he expected the final bid to be on his desk by Sept. 10 and the bond package to close Sept. 1. 

The securities should raise just under $12 million, the estimated cost of the new facility. The term is for 20 years and the interest rate is 4.19 percent. The county had considered selling Buy America Bonds for all or part of the financing plan, but decided to stay with the traditional tax-exempt municipal security.

Wood said they couldn’t find an advantage to selling the BAB bond, and they went with what has worked well for the county in the past. Kent had its triple-A rating renewed again this year by Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s.

Rockford Construction, which co-hosted last week’s groundbreaking ceremony with the DPW, will manage the project. Design Plus designed the facility’s exterior. RRT Design and Construction of Melville, N.Y., is designing the building’s interior. RRT specializes in solid waste processing and recycling facilities.

“They have been working hand-in-hand with Rockford to coordinate things,” said Wood.

Besides being able to recycle 10 times more solid waste than the current facility, County Commissioner and Chairman of the DPW board Art Tanis said the new center also will give the department an opportunity to expand its educational effort. 

DPW offers programs to enlighten elementary students, high schoolers and adults about what is trash and what can be reused, recycled or composted and about how making choices can reduce the amount of trash that is created. Wood said the educational area will be built on the facility’s second level.

“The whole side of the educational area will be glass, and there will also be a catwalk where they can walk out to see the facility from one level up. We also will have strategically located cameras and a couple of flat screen TVs so they can also see the process that way,” said Wood.

For the first time this year, the DPW reached out to preschoolers through first graders with a new program called Sorting it Out. The program used a book, “Recycle” written by Gail Gibbons, to introduce the fledgling students to what the department does.

“At that age level, kids are very into books. So we go in and read the book and stop and do an activity. With preschoolers, we don’t stop quite as often and just get through the presentation, whereas older kids can help us sort some of our recyclables that we bring in and talk about what is recyclable and what’s not and what happens to it,” said Ann Kaiser, a resource recovery specialist at DPW.

“Some kids are very involved at home with it and they’re absorbing the knowledge at that age. They’re really interested in that kind of thing, especially the sorting part of it. They get excited about that kind of thing,” she added.

After a few years of searching for a good location, the DPW bought the site at 977 Wealthy St. SW from 3900 Corp., a local private foundation, for $1. Two years ago, the property was appraised at $875,000. A structure on the site had to be razed.

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