City decides to close Northside collection site, locals mobilize to put it to a vote
By Joseph Budd
Native Sun News Today Staff Writer
Rapid City, currently has a landfill for dumping purposes, and for a short time, had waste collection sites around town. However, due to a decision from the city, based on a lack of staffing, the main drop site located off West Blvd North, would be shutting down indefinitely, on May 1st. Fitzgerald Stadium, on the west side of the city, would be opening on the 1st of May, and curbside collection would begin on May 2nd.
The act, already has seen two folks organize a petition drive to stop the closure, due to the difficulty some folks have in taking waste to the south end of town, going into the landfill, and sometimes, having to pay fees for specific items. Some folks also mentioned the reason for the closure, while noted some things being dumped there, that had no relation to yard waste or recyclable materials, like furniture or appliances, some folks would comment that solutions could be as simple as installing security cameras.
Meanwhile, the issue also highlighted what appears to be a lack of communication within the city council and the mayor. John Roberts, councilman, mentioned about the petitions, also talked about the given site, stated “I know that site specifically, we’ve had many issues over the years with people dumping garbage and different things happening up there. With a committee and talking to people and investing just a little bit of money up there, I think we could have taken care of a lot of these problems, but that wasn’t even an option given to us – there was zero options given to us.
Council member Bill Evans, mentioned that in the three years he’s been on the council, there’s been a movement towards convenience for the employees over the need of satisfying the constituents. Council member Laura Armstrong said she doesn’t think decisions came easy, but said communication is not as seamless as it should be. She suggested having a community conversation similar to the Coffee with Planners session, with Community Development that takes place.
Mayor Allender, on the topic mentioned that two emails were sent on April 12th and 13th to the council members to discuss the changes to the waste disposal site. He also mentioned that there was discussion with the council members dating back to February, and city staff received positive feedback. He also mentioned, that he and city staff received responses from two council members.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Allender mentioned “It seems to be a common and developing theme among some council members to lambast staff, to put staff in this position of being incompetent or something in order for council members to not have to address this issue.”
The mayor said, instead of supporting city staff and dealing with hiring and staffing issues, some council members are “throwing staff under the bus.”
Allender said something he and city staff receive no replies from council members and that the assumption is if no one replies to it, they’re ok with whatever the email detailed.
Allender did say that it would be unrealistic to hold a town hall meeting every time there’s a minor change. He did mention there is free curbside yard waste pickup, and the West Blvd site is routinely abused. He said the closure of the site is the beginning of changes necessary to keep the solid waste division operating within budget. He also mentioned that there have been some discussion on changing communication avenues, and has received numerous comments from city staff about being thrown under the bus, disrespected and devalued by council members about specific incidents and interference with their work. He finished up with saying city employees are the most valuable asset to the city, and being put in this position makes it an undesirable place for them to be. “It’s a concern we’re going to have to address.” Allender said.