Aspen recycling center ‘a hideous mess’ |

Aspen recycling center ‘a hideous mess’

ASPEN, Colorado – Aspen officials are in the initial planning stages to clean up what some say is the town’s biggest eyesore – the recycling center at Rio Grande Park.

City Manager Steve Barwick said he plans to introduce a proposal to the Aspen City Council that would improve the site.

The area has become a dumping ground by people who ignore posted signs that forbid anything but recyclables from being dropped off there.

It’s frustrated city and county officials for years, and just last week several government employees each spent 11⁄2 hours picking up by hand garbage, debris and furniture from the site and taking it to the county landfill.

“It’s a hideous mess,” said Lee Cassin, the city’s director of environmental health. “We get complaints all the time.”

Cassin said the condition of the recycling center is not in sync with Aspen’s mission of environmental responsibility.

“It’s just not consistent with what Aspen is all about,” she said, adding the hours spent by government employees cleaning up the area over the years is not time well-spent.

“It’s a waste of taxpayer money having us clean it up,” she said.

One idea is to have the dirt parking lot paved, and have the city’s parks department landscape the area so it appears more contiguous with Rio Grande Park and the adjacent skateboard park.

Parks department officials couldn’t be reached for comment. But it appears a work session with the council will be scheduled sometime this summer to find a solution to the mess.

To deter people from illegal dumping, city officials might entertain installing a video camera in the area. Basalt recently put a camera at its recycling center, Cassin said.

In 2006, voters rejected a council-approved proposal to construct two open structures in an “L” shape that would have acted as a covered facility for the area.

The latest plans wouldn’t go that far.

“All we are talking about is making it look like the park,” Cassin said, noting that the work would be done in-house by the parks department.

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