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Locals offer mixed reactions to recycling change

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Juno Ogle Photo Joe Luna, Roswell, drops cans into the city recycling bin Friday morning at 800 W. Hobbs St. The city plans to remove the bins from public use at the end of July, saying it costs the city more than $200,000 a year to recycle. Area residents who use the bins said they understood the city's reason but hoped for continued opportunities to recycle.

Several area residents using the city’s recycling bins Friday morning — especially those from outside Roswell — expressed disappointment the city will be removing the bins from public use this summer. A few said without the bins, it’s possible they might not be able to continue recycling.

With the oil and gas industry crash and the coronavirus pandemic, the city faced cutting $31.1 million in expenses from its fiscal 2021 budget. The city has been subsidizing its recycling program at about $225,000 per year for the last few years, City Manager Joe Neeb told the City Council at a budget workshop at the beginning of June.

As a result, the city will remove its 10 free recycling bins from public use at the end of July and will offer franchise agreements for curbside recycling as it does with commercial trash pickup. The city is currently working with Roswell company J&A Recycling on such an agreement. Originally, the removal date had been set for Tuesday, but Neeb said in the June 18 public forum the date had been pushed back to allow for more time to work out an agreement.

The Roswell Daily Record talked to people using the bins Friday morning. Several had not yet heard about the changes. All said they understood the city’s decision, but hoped an alternative could be offered.

Barbara Chappell said she didn’t think curbside recycling would be possible for her and her husband. Their apartment doesn’t have direct access to a city curb and getting even a small bin to the street would be difficult, she said.

“What it would take to get it there, because I don’t get out and walk, my husband would have to do it and he works,” she said.

The apartments are income-based, and Chappell said she wasn’t sure the landlord would offer tenants the service.

The bins at 2755 N. Main St. are convenient for them to bring their recycling, she said. Without them, she wasn’t sure if they would continue to recycle.

“I hate to throw it in the trash. That’s just more trash for the landfill,” Chappell said.

Rebecca Johnson, Roswell, said the bin at 800 W. Hobbs St. was convenient for her to drop off recycling on her way to work from just south of town, but said it was inconvenient the city doesn’t accept glass and only certain types of plastic.

She did like the idea of curbside service. She said her daughter in Cleveland has curbside recycling pickup.

“Everything that’s recyclable, it doesn’t really matter what it is, just goes in one bag,” Johnson said. “They really make it easy and you don’t have to have all these different containers.”

“I think more people would do it if they didn’t have to load this stuff in their car,” she said. “If it was a set fee and you knew what it was, I would probably go for that.”

Joe Luna also brought his recyclables to the Hobbs bin. He agreed many people would use other options if available.

“If they’re concerned about the recycling issues, they’re going to make the effort to do it,” he said.

“It’s a service that needs to be done here. It’s not going to disappear on its own,” Luna said of the waste. “We’ve got to do our part. We’ve got to pass it on to the next generation.”

Karleen Koopman, Roswell, also said she would continue to recycle after the bins are gone.

“I think we’re going to continue to recycle anyway. It might be worth it to not have to drive it here,” she said at the North Main bin.

Several out-of-town residents using the North Main bin were unhappy to hear the bins would be removed.

“I enjoy recycling and all that, so that would be a bummer to have to pay for it,” said Anne Gipson, who lives south of Roswell near Dexter.

“I think if you want to do something good with your trash, you shouldn’t have to pay for it,” she said.

Gipson said she would consider paying for a recycling service if it was affordable.

Linda Newberry, Artesia, said several residents from that town bring recycling to Roswell.

“We don’t have it in Artesia,” she said. “They recycle in Carlsbad, but they don’t take everything Roswell does.”

She and her husband both see doctors in Roswell, so they always bring their recycling when they have appointments. Newberry said she will sometimes take newspapers from the bin for Artesia’s animal shelter to use.

“I believe in recycling. I recycle everything I can,” Newberry said. “If they’re going to remove this, that’s going to be really hard for us. But we’ll keep recycling, whatever we have to do.”

Juhree Miles, who farms with her husband near Hagerman, wasn’t sure she would be able to continue recycling if the city switches to curbside service.

“I guess it will work for people here in town but it won’t work for us, so I don’t know what we’ll do,” she said.

“I guess we’ll get a trash barrel and put it out back to burn everything. It’s either that or drive miles to a dump or something,” Miles said.

“I feel like they should at least leave one. They’re going to lose a lot of recycling,” she said.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.