York County staff still have a task ahead of them sorting through trash and recycling sites in Fort Mill, but already they’re looking at where to go next. As in brand new collection centers in some of the fastest-growing areas of the county.
“We have a need and we’re evaluating that in the Fort Mill area, and in the Lake Wylie area for additional centers,” said Eric Rekitt, the county’s public works director.
The county runs 16 collection and recycling centers. Locations take household waste, recycling and some other materials. Lake Wylie has one at Bethel School Road. The next nearest sites are on Campbell Road south of Five Points, in the Allison Creek area, and on South Paraham Road halfway to Clover.
Fort Mill is another matter.
One site is open near Baxter off S.C. 160 West. The county leased another site on Tom Hall Street for years, but it closed in March due to a land sale. Plans are to put a medical office building there. The county set up a temporary site nearby on Fort Mill Parkway, but that site doesn’t take all the same materials due to its small size.
“It is serving the public,” Rekitt said. “On a limited basis, but it is providing a service.”
On Tuesday night, York County Council approved a consultant contract with Joyce Engineering Inc. out of Richmond, Va., for work on the planned permanent center on Fort Mill’s east side. The firm was one of seven applying to help with design and construction services.
A larger site will provide for the current services and those lost with the closing in March. The county has 4.5 acres at the corner of Fort Mill Parkway and West Hensley Road.
“We’ve got a pretty aggressive schedule for completion of this project,” Rekitt said, “which we anticipate by July 1, 2018.”
Councilwoman Christi Cox said she often gets the same questions about what’s happening at the temporary and planned sites. She wants the county to put signage at the temporary site laying out when various steps in the process should be complete, both to inform and keep the county accountable.
“My concern is that the public doesn’t know what’s going on,” Cox said.
The county was taken a little off guard when it received a notice its lease wouldn’t be renewed back in July 2016. County staff worked with the owner of the former collection site to keep it open for several months even as the land moved through early development phases with the town of Fort Mill. Early estimates had the new site opening this year, Cox said.
“There was some concern that we had promised a date or that staff had promised a date that couldn’t happen, and didn’t have a plan for that and what the folks could expect,” she said.
The main goal now, she said, needs to be nailing down and sticking to a plan for getting the permanent site open.
“It makes us all look bad if we don’t at least know what the plan is,” Cox said.
The county closed on the new recycling center location in April. Two structures will have to come down there to make room.
As that project moves forward, county staff is trying to make sure properties for collection centers are owned by the county as much as possible.
“We’re trying to prevent this from happening in the future with other sites,” Rekitt said. “Currently we have two other leased sites.”
One, in McConnells, is leased until 2020.
“Also the Baxter site is a lease,” Rekitt said. “That expires in 2019.”
Baxter is the nearest site to the one that closed in Fort Mill. It’s still where residents with some items that can’t be recycled at the temporary site have to go for disposal.
Rekitt told Council he intended to meet with Clear Springs, owner of the Baxter site, today to discuss the future of the property.
The Fort Mill sites aren’t the only recycling effort in the public works. Council approved more than $3.7 million on Tuesday night for equipment at the county recovered materials processing site, right beside its recycling center. The work involves designing and setting up equipment like conveyors, sort stations, fiber screens, blowers, separators, balers and compactors.
On Aug. 21, the county finance and operations committee met. Part of that discussion involved information on electronics recycling. The vendor used by York County now won’t be able to continue the free service. The county could have to pay $250,000-$300,000 annually. County staff is working on how that cost will impact county residents.