Columbus's new Recycling and Sustainability Center, set to open Oct. 2, will add an educational component to the process in hopes to encourage growing participation, city leaders said Tuesday.
The 54,000 square foot center adjacent to the Pine Grove Landfill off Schatulga Road will feature a mezzanine for viewing the recycling process, meeting and classroom space, educational stations throughout the complex, interactive exhibits, and displays on sustainability through recycling, alternative energy, energy efficiency and water efficiency.
The facility will be a “joint operation” between the Consolidated Government and a private contractor that will sell the recycled products, from which the city will profit, and marketing the facility to attract business from outside the city, Director of Public Works Pat Biegler told Columbus Councilors during a presentation Tuesday afternoon.
“There is a strong educational component that’s included in this project,” Biegler said. “It’s not just a recycling center, but a sustainability center, too.”
One large difference between the current 12,000 square foot facility and the new one is that separating of the different materials will no longer be done by inmates at the curb, but on a single conveyor line at the facility, also operated by inmates.
The city also plans to operate four recycling collection points for residents to drop off recyclables. Those will be at the Welcome Center on Williams Road, Cooper Creek Park, Sacerdote Lane and at the current recycling facility on Victory Drive.
The total cost of the project, including construction, infrastructure, equipment and furnishings, is $8.5 million, Deputy City Manager David Arrington said.
“The approach that we’re taking with this project is, first and foremost, to expand our current recycling operations. Our existing operation is at capacity,” Arrington said. “We also wanted to expand our educational and our marketing efforts in the community to try to get the community to become more conscious of recycling and to recycle more.”
The building's construction is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified and features a "green" roof, rainwater reclamation, skylights, solar panels, low water use plumbing, recycled building materials, high thermal insulation and water-efficient landscaping, Arrington said.
The issue of how to furnish and outfit the facility got hung up in Council for the second meeting in a row. Two weeks ago, Councilor Judy Thomas questioned spending about $45,000 on furnishings for such a facility and asked City Manager Isaiah Hugley to see if used furniture that will be rendered surplus by the opening of the new City Service Center could be found instead of buying new.
Hugley’s request before Council Tuesday was for same approximately $45,000, minus about $3,000 in savings from using some used furniture that Hugley’s staff located.
Thomas said that was not enough and offered as an example the 100 or so chairs in Council Chambers used for public seating. Those could be used in the classroom and meeting rooms, she pointed out.
At Councilor Gary Allen’s request, the item was pulled from the agenda so Hugley could look further for used furniture for the facility.