SILER CITY — “This location has closed! We apologize for any inconvenience!,” declares a sign printed on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper — the sign’s black lettering a bit smudged from exposure …
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SILER CITY — “This location has closed! We apologize for any inconvenience!,” declares a sign printed on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper — the sign’s black lettering a bit smudged from exposure to the elements despite a clear, plastic protective cover — and zip-tied to the chain link gate at Waste Management’s solid waste transfer station in Siler City.
Located at the end of Waste Treatment Plant Road, which winds a short distance downhill from its point of origin on U.S. 64 just west of the nearby Walmart, the transfer station closed shop on New Year’s eve, eliminating the closest option for waste disposal for some residents.
Another same-sized sign zip-tied next to the initial announcement offers more information: “Waste Management regrets to inform our customers that we will be closing the Siler City transfer station location on December 31, 2019. This was not an easy decision to come to and we greatly apologize for the inconvenience this will cause to our loyal customers.”
Those customers include not only residential users of the facility but also the Town of Siler City and Chatham County, both governments routinely using the local facility to meet their solid waste disposal needs since it opened approximately 20 years ago.
“As far as why they closed, I don’t know,” said Chris McCorkindale, Siler City’s public works director, who said in an interview on Monday that Waste Management notified the town by letter about a month before shutting down the facility at the end of 2019, though offering little explanation. The letter offered town officials similar language regarding the closure to that on the sign awaiting customers at the transfer station’s now-locked gate.
“For the time being,” McCorkindale said, “it’s put us in a little bit of a bind.”
In the wake of Waste Management’s decision, the town is now transferring those bulk items routinely collected on routes throughout town to either of the two nearest alternatives, in Lee and Randolph counties: Waste Management’s Sanford transfer station, at 2720 Wilkins Dr.; and Great Oak Landfill, owned and operated by Waste Management, at 3597 Old Cedar Falls Rd., Randleman.
But the extra distance — Siler City Town Manager Roy Lynch told the News + Record on Monday that the additional travel for Siler City’s trucks is a minimum of 20 miles, one way — means more travel and vehicle maintenance costs the town now incurs.
The matter was reviewed briefly by Siler City officials, meeting on Saturday with the town board to begin preparing the town’s upcoming fiscal year 2020/21 budget.
While the town is still evaluating the impact of the facility’s closure, Lynch is preliminarily asking town commissioners to consider an increase in the town’s Sanitation Department budget by $32,400. The additional funds include vehicle repairs and increases in travel and tipping fees associated with the longer distances town trucks now must travel to deposit solid waste.
McCorkindale said the town, since the facility closed, has been alternating using both the Sanford and Randleman alternatives, evaluating which is most economical to the town.
“It’s going to have a significant impact on us as far as expenses go,” Lynch said. “That includes additional fuel, wear and tear on our vehicles and the additional miles that will now need to be driven. It’s going to take a couple of months to get an idea of what the long-term costs are.”
Lynch said the town utilized the now-shuttered facility "all the time,” often multiple trips in the same day.
A number of residents also utilized the local facility, said McCorkindale.
“Probably more people used it than I realized, based on the number of calls we’ve gotten about it,” he said.
McCorkindale said he can only refer those residents inquiring about the closure to the two alternative locations.
Lynch said, for now, there are no other alternatives available to the town, other than hauling solid waste the additional miles to the two out-of-county locations; but he said it’s possible perhaps another solid waste service provider could procure the closed facility and re-open it.
Randall Rigsbee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.