03/29/09 — Walnut Creek closes its compost facility, could reopen it later

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Walnut Creek closes its compost facility, could reopen it later

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on March 29, 2009 2:00 AM

WALNUT CREEK -- The residents of Walnut Creek may not have a place in the village to buy compost in the future.

The village council decided to close the facility March 9 until village officials can figure out how to clean it up.

The problem, they said, is that loads and loads of compost keep coming into the facility, while less and less is leaving it to be used on home landscapes and gardens.

Resident and village Planning Board member Jeff Wharton brought a presentation to the council meeting Wednesday night to show his support of re-opening the facility, once it is cleaned up.

His recommendation was to not waste what compost is at the facility and to advertise that compost is available for sale for $25 a pickup load delivered to any resident.

The stockpile of compost is from landscaping contractors dumping their clients' yard waste by the truckload at the facility, Wharton said.

"We should restrict access to residents only," he said, a recommendation he believes would help to control the amount of compost being trucked into the facility.

He suggested placing signs at the facility stating only residents could dump their yard waste and to send letters both to the residents and the landscaping contractors of the change, if village officials decided to do so.

And a gate restricting access to the facility -- unless residents have a code or card -- also would be helpful, he said. A coded access gate would cost around $3,000 and a card reader gate would cost around $10,400.

He also recommended the village council consider having separate areas for the different types of yard waste -- one for lawn clippings to be turned into compost for soil and another area for branches that can be turned into mulch.

"It was this way at one time," he said. "And it was successful."

Wharton is a member of the planning board, which is expected to make a formal recommendation to the council at its April meeting.

Village Clerk Cathy Woodson said that the council would like to see the facility cleaned up within the next three months, but she doesn't know if that will be enough time to do so.

And, she said, the council and other village officials are unsure if the facility is more a burden to the town than an asset.

The town budgets more than $10,000 a year to hire an outside company to haul off extra compost to keep the facility from flowing over.

Council members agreed that the facility was a problem and said they were working to fix it.

Mayor Darrell Horne told Wharton that he appreciated the work that he had done on the presentation and the compilation of information, but the council took no formal action on the compost facility Wednesday night.

Wharton also showed a presentation in support of banning open air burning.

Horne told him that the council would look into that issue as well.

The Planning Board will have a final road map of where the village should go, based on the residential survey and town hall meeting comments, in the next five-to-ten years at the April meeting, Sloan said, and that road map will include recommendations on many issues, including open air burning.

In other business, village officials announced that the council will meet April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Village Hall to discuss the village budget.