County breaks ground on recycling centerFrom paint buckets and fluorescent light bulbs to those old “pre-digital” television sets. What do you do with the household junk that you can’t just casually drop in the garbage can?
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
From paint buckets and fluorescent light bulbs to those old “pre-digital” television sets. What do you do with the household junk that you can’t just casually drop in the garbage can?
You bring it to the Washington County Environmental Center.
The current environmental center location in Oakdale, which opened in 1994, will be closing soon in favor of a new more expansive location on the corner of Dale Road and Cottage Grove Drive in Woodbury.
The county board recently approved funds to construct the new site in Woodbury, and last month the Woodbury City Council approved a site plan for the project.
Washington county staff members and local dignitaries broke ground last week to celebrate the beginning of a project to construct the new environment center which is set to open July 2009.
The location will be built next door to a county public works building and the city’s compost pit, a spot that Woodbury Mayor Bill Hargis thinks will be appreciated by residents with environmentally conscientious mindsets.
“We all know that environmental issues are very important to the city of Woodbury and we definitely welcome this opportunity for the county to build this facility in our community,” Hargis said at the Sept. 29 groundbreaking ceremony.
Emphasizing the re-use aspect
Since the county opened a recycling center for household hazardous waste items in 1994, the Oakdale facility has collected more than 600 tons of waste, which is sorted, processed and disposed of properly, said county public works director Don Theisen.
The county decided earlier this year to close the Oakdale location in favor of a new, larger facility in Woodbury. Theisen said the Woodbury facility will also be more centrally located for Cottage Grove, Woodbury and Stillwater, the more populous communities in the county.
“I think in the near future we’re going to look at setting up some smaller, remote locations in the Forest Lake, Hugo area, but we think this Woodbury location is a good spot for most of our residents,” Theisen said.
One aspect of the environmental center county officials are hoping to emphasize is that it is not only a place to recycle items. It’s a resource for finding items that can be reused.
The new Woodbury household hazardous waste facility will feature a store, where county residents can pick-up items that were dropped off but can be reused.
“We put those used products into the hands of those that can maybe use that half gallon of paint for the cabin or the garage, instead of just disposing of them,” said Washington County public health and environment director Lowell Johnson.
Last year more than 18,000 county residents used the Oakdale facility. Johnson said he expects the new Woodbury facility to see an increase due to its location and the fact that more and more people are taking advantage of the facility’s ability to collect and dispose of electronics waste.
“We were one of the first to do a pilot collection of electronics, and as we know ‘e-waste’ has become a major issue, and as we head into the age of digital televisions we expect there is going to be a continued demand for those kinds of products, which means more junk.”
“We are a society that likes to flick the light switch and leave the lights on, but we don’t want the power on in our backyard,” said Washington County Commissioner Dick Stafford. “But this facility is in a good location, has good access, and I’m happy it’s going to be in my hometown.”