To the Editor:

This letter is directed toward Athens City Council members.

Like many residents of Athens city and county, I am concerned about the possibility that the city will discontinue its contract with Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers (AHRC) and replace their services by contracting with Licking County’s Waste Away Systems at the end of the one-year extension of the AHRC contract announced on May 28. I was surprised at the initial announcement that AHRC would be replaced by Waste Away. It would be illogical to add a large, unnecessary carbon footprint to the city’s otherwise praiseworthy efforts to act responsibly as we edge up to climate tipping points.

Fortunately, city residents have been contacting you with these and other concerns (for example, the impact on AHRC employees, Waste Away’s reported record of poor services). But these are not the only voices you should hear.

As a resident of Dover Township, I know that some neighbors believe that Athens City Council is not interested in their concerns. However, there is a direct link between your prospective decision and life in the county (aside from obvious shared concerns about carbon, city waste, and unemployment). If the city cancels its contract with AHRC, they are likely to go out of business. If they do, county residents will lose an excellent provider of this vital service. The ripple effects will be more people contracting with distant haulers and fewer people recycling. We will all lose.

I know that the city had a financial rationale for the initial decision to switch to Waste Away, but I wonder if it was adequate. Did the city take into account the costs and benefits in not only economic but also social and environmental terms? Or, did it continue with the narrow, shortsighted, and environmentally and socially irresponsible accounting practices of the past?

If the purpose and powers of the City Council are consistent with Ohio Revised Code 167.03, your charge is to study and act on problems having to do with “health, safety, welfare, education, economic conditions and regional development.” Continuing to contract with AHRC is obviously in the best interests of the city and county’s health, safety, welfare, economy and regional development.

As a teacher, I hope to be able to use your decision a year from now to teach a lesson in civic responsibility. Failing that, I will surely use the decision to teach a lesson in civic irresponsibility.

Austin Babrow

North Peach Ridge Road

Athens

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