December 18, 2014

Elyria
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Oberlin seeks state grant to replace garbage trucks destroyed in fire

Oberlin firefighters battle a fire at a maintenance garage Saturday. COURTESY OF CITY OF OBERLIN

Oberlin firefighters battle a fire at a maintenance garage Saturday. COURTESY OF CITY OF OBERLIN

OBERLIN — The city of Oberlin has asked for state help to replace garbage and recycling trucks that were destroyed during a February fire at the city’s Public Works Complex.

The city, with the help of the Lorain County Solid Waste Management District, has applied for a $200,000 community grant through the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for the purchase of new recycling vehicles and carts.

The grant application was approved Wednesday by the county commissioners.

City Manager Eric Norenberg said while the city’s insurance has paid for the cost of replacing the Public Works Complex, the insurance did not cover all the costs needed to replace the six trucks, which had depreciated in value over the years.

The city’s newest vehicle was five years old, and the oldest was 16 years old, he said.

“We budgeted for two new vehicles this year anyway. However, even with the insurance and budget funds, there is not enough money to replace all six, or even five,” he said.

Norenberg said the city had been working on its Zero Waste Plan, a plan to eventually move to a 90 percent reduction in waste, before the fire occurred.

The plan called for moving to a cart-based system to improve recycling participation.

Keith Bailey, director of the Lorain County Solid Waste Management District, said he has been working with Oberlin to help the city purchase the new vehicles and cart-based system, which has shown favorable, increased recycling results in other cities.

Bailey said the county’s largest recyclers — Elyria and North Ridgeville — have switched over to a cart-based system, which increased recycling fourfold as a result. All of the cities in the county, with the exception of Lorain, have switched to a cart-based system or are in the process of it, he said.

Bailey said that the Ohio EPA considers Lorain County a model of recycling collection and approves of cart-based recycling. He is optimistic that the agency will approve Oberlin’s request for a grant to get the process moving.

“(Oberlin’s) intent was to convert garbage this year, because they have some trucks that are very old. The fire kind of made this process go a little faster than they expected,” he said.

Bailey said he expects that the Lorain County Solid Waste Management District will learn whether the grant application has been approved in May.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.