By Megan Murchie-Beyma
The Rockbridge County solid waste and recycling departments are planning to relocate the trash center in Glasgow to Natural Bridge.
The Glasgow Collection Center is one of seven staffed sites operated by the county where residents can drop off their trash and recyclables.
Rockbridge County Recycling Coordinator Daniel Miear said a center in Natural Bridge would help reduce the number of unmanned dumpsters needed in the area. He said it would not significantly inconvenience Glasgow residents because the new site would be only about five miles away.
“I still think [the center] would be utilized by the residents there,” he said. “Even though it’s just a little bit further from where it’s at now.”
Glasgow is one of the only places in the area that hires a disposal company to do curbside pickup. Miear said county residents living in Glasgow would only need to use the staffed centers to drop off recycling.
The county also has 15 unstaffed sites, where county residents can drop trash into open dumpsters.
Miear said the sites have signs that warn that only county residents may dump trash. He said deputies from the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office try to keep an eye on the dumpsters, but people from outside of Rockbridge County still use them.
The county pays C&S Disposal in Natural Bridge to haul the trash away. Bulky items like furniture don’t fit well into dumpsters and are harder and more expensive to take to the landfill.
Leslie Ayers, a member of the county Board of Supervisors, said the unstaffed sites in her district had problems with people leaving furniture next to the dumpsters. She said one time someone left a boat to be thrown away. Ayers said the unmanned trash sites can also attract bears.
“That’s one of the problems with open dumpsters,” she said. “It brings in wildlife … the last thing you want is to bring in bears.”
In 2015, the county hired SCS Engineers, an environmental consulting and contracting company, to study the county’s waste and recycling program. Miear said the company gave the county a list of recommendations that included locating collection centers no more than five miles away from residents.
“That’s kind of what most people are willing to drive,” Miear said.
In 2019, the county opened the new Fancy Hill Collection Center, which has a staff member every day of the week, Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. Opening the Fancy Hill center allowed the county to close several unstaffed sites.
Miear said relocating the Glasgow center could allow the county to close three or four unmanned sites. He said the county also plans to build three new hybrid sites in the coming years, which would be smaller and monitored periodically by staff.
“Those were kind of the last pieces in the puzzle,” he said. “That would enable us to just [use] the staffed and hybrid sites.”
He said the county has found a plot of land for the proposed Natural Bridge center and is looking into purchase options. The next steps would include holding a public hearing on the project. Miear said he hopes construction will start by the end of this year.