LEE’S SUMMIT, October 20, 2011 – Lee’s Summit City Council tonight voted 7 to 1 for ending the Citywide Solid Waste/Recycling Request for Proposal. On Friday the 21st the City was to appear in court to resolve the current restraining order brought on by a suit filed in District 17 Court by Deffenbaugh Industries that claimed insufficient clarity to properly respond to the defunct RFP.
When asked his opinion as to why the RFP was voted down, Councilman Whitley stated that “the conversation had moved away from the issues that brought forth the proposed Solid Waste and Curbside Recycling proposal.”
Councilman Gray added that “it was time to put this behind and move forward”. The real issues, the lack of recycling in Lee’s Summit, the pending closure of the current land fill in some 3 to 5 years if the fill rate continues as it is, remain. At some point the City is going to have to find a way to reduce the fill rate of the landfill, Councilmembers Gray and Whitley added “we’re going to have to find a more visionary approach to address the real issues.”
“There may have to be some licensing ordinance work done in the future to encourage curbside recycling by haulers that service Lee’s Summit.” Said Councilman Gray when asked what further steps the City could be considering as it moves forward.
There are, in my opinion, several valuable lessons that can be gleaned from this effort. The City has to do a better job of communicating with the residents. The backlash from residents was more about the surprise of the proposal moving rapidly towards ordinance, than an attitude against curbside recycling.
The only proposal presented to City Council by Kara Taylor was the single hauler approach. I have to believe that there were many other ideas if not considered, at least available for consideration. In only presenting one option the residents of Lee’s Summit felt railroaded and that “politics as usual” was going to hit the wallets – something no one likes.
The key issues are still valid, but if you only have a hammer everything begins to look like a nail, and the single hauler approach felt like a solution looking for a problem to solve.
Home Owner Associations and Lee’s Summit 360 participated in the process, and a few impassioned residents made their voices heard throughout the process. Additional talent within the Lee’s Summit community can be reached (it may take some prodding) and asked to contribute solutions; had it started in that fashion and with an infusion of new blood and ideas; I am certain that today would have been different – because I have faith that the solution would have been different.
City Council and City Staff need to take a moment and extract the lessons from this effort and push for a better method next time a difficult issue like this has to be handled. To not get everything from this lesson would be a true waste of effort and money.
The Lee’s Summit Conservative.