Recycling drop-off site spurs noise complaints in Santa Fe

December 3, 2018

The city recycling center behind Fort Marcy Ballpark is loud.

Too loud, some city officials say. And that might mean the drop-off site has reached its expiration date.

Noise from the recycling center on Murales Road, the only city recycling drop-off in the immediate vicinity of downtown, has raised complaints from a handful of neighbors, who city officials say are besieged by the clattering and crashing of glass debris.

“No one would want to live near it,” said City Councilor Signe Lindell. “The way those dumpsters are, when people put glass in them, it breaks; it’s loud. It’s louder at different times of day than others. And let’s face it: Sometimes, when people throw glass in those, it’s fun to break it.”

Complaints have spurred a survey of the site’s value, and the survey could spur a change in locations, or simply the elimination of the Fort Marcy site. The other city recycling drop-off centers are on Siler Road, off Airport Road and at the Buckman Recycling and Transfer Station.

The city Public Utilities Committee floated the possibility of a few alternative sites in the downtown area, and several city councilors expressed support in varying degrees for closing the Fort Marcy location.

“We’ll see what the next direction is,” said Shirlene Sitton, the director of the city’s environmental services division.

The volume of glass at the Fort Marcy site has been a source of angst ever since the city eliminated glass materials from its curbside pickup program in early 2017, Lindell said.

The downtown location is most highly trafficked of the city’s four recycling drop-off sites, generating about 3.1 tons of glass weekly and half of the total material dropped off at city centers, according to Sitton.

But eliminating the site is at least on the table, if not a real possibility.

City staff conducted a survey of drop-off users over the past several weeks, trying to determine their patterns, how far away they live from the site, how often they use it and whether they are bothered by the glass-on-glass noise.

Sitton said she was still compiling the results and couldn’t yet speak to the findings. She will present the survey conclusions Wednesday before the Public Utilities Committee, which might offer further guidance or decide on a course of action.

Possible new locations if the Fort Marcy site were to close include a spot behind the Lodge at Santa Fe off St. Francis Drive or one near the Railyard, across the street from SITE Santa Fe, Sitton told councilors last month.

Both would present challenges of their own, however. The site behind the Lodge would also be near residences, same as the Fort Marcy location. And the possible site near the Railyard is off the big and busy Paseo de Peralta and Guadalupe Street intersection. Councilor Renee Villarreal mentioned last month it could be a prospective site for housing.

Sitton said the city had all but exhausted options to make the Fort Marcy site less noisy. One additional possibility is a “roll-off” container, she said, which would eliminate the deafening noise of the container being dumped into a truck.

“We’re going to continue to keep trying,” she said. “We want everyone to be happy. We want to serve the most amount of people in the most convenient way.”

Lindell, who like Villarreal represents the Fort Marcy area, was clear: The volume makes the site untenable.

“It has been a good try, but it didn’t work out,” she said. “We will have to bite the bullet and either move it to another site or close it down. … They have to be strategically placed.”

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