By Evelyn Rupert
City Manager Jon Ellestad hefted what could be an addition to Lexington streets into City Hall last week.
The 33-gallon recycling bins gained the Architectural Review Board’s approval — a first step toward getting public recycling containers in parks and the downtown area.
The board reviews all proposals that could change the look of the historic city. Members unanimously
agreed at the March 1 meeting that the green metal containers are a needed upgrade because Lexington now recycles only items that private homes and businesses leave out for collection.
“I guess we are behind,” said Architectural Review Board Chair Fred Kirchner. “I can’t believe how long it’s taken.”
Catching up with the recycling trend comes with a price tag. Ellestad said each container will cost about $250. He will ask City Council at its next meeting for money to pay for the 20 to 30 containers he wants to see throughout the city.
City Manager Jon Ellestad presents a recycling container to the Architectural Review Board. He hopes to have the baskets distributed along the streets of Lexington by April. Photo by Evelyn Rupert.
“I’ve already thrown out the number $7,000, and they seemed reasonably okay with that,” Ellestad said. “We’ve got some money in our
contingency fund that we could appropriate.”
Mayor Mimi Elrod said that while she thinks City Council members will be in favor of the recycling containers, some might be hesitant to
dip further into the city’s savings. Paying for the containers would drain the city’s savings account to about half of what it was at the beginning of the
High school students from the Mayor’s Youth Council first brought the lack of recycling containers to City Council’s attention. Four
students attended a meeting in December and asked the council to consider placing public recycling receptacles around town.
“They were really the ones who thought about the need for those [containers] and wanted to do something about it,” Elrod said. “I’m very
excited. I’m very proud of these high school students who care about it.”
City Council Member Bob Lera said putting out public recycling containers is beneficial not only to residents but to visitors as
well. And he said not giving tourists a place to recycle might make Lexington residents look like “country bumpkins.”
Architectural Review Board Member Michael Lynn bemoaned the absence of the containers.
“It’s frustrating when you see people with plastic bottles,” Lynn said. “All it’s doing is going to the landfill.”
Public Works Director Michael Kennedy said Lexington recycled more than 1,800 tons of trash last year. He hopes that in addition to
decreasing the amount of trash the city sends to the landfill, the new containers will encourage more people to recycle glass, plastic and cans instead
of throwing them away.
To Elrod, it’s the right thing to do.
“If we care about recycling we should have the proper bins,” she said.
Ellestad hopes to see the bins, which will have “recycle” printed on the side, along downtown sidewalks and in parks by the end of April.