So all that business about building the new county recycling center at Bees Ferry was just, well, trash talk.
Last week, Charleston County Council members said they were going to hold up on their plans to stick the new recycling facility in North Charleston in order to take another look at the Bees Ferry Landfill.
In West Ashley, that went over about as well as Alan Wilson at a Bobby Harrell Christmas party.
But in truth, West Ashley never really had anything to worry about. It was just politics and a failure to communicate.
See, some council members have problems with the Palmetto Commerce Parkway site, and had heard that perhaps Mayor Joe Riley was not as dead-set against a recycling center as they thought.
But just like Rick, who claimed he went to Casablanca for the waters, they were misinformed.
“I appreciate the difficult problem the county is dealing with in handling solid waste and recycling, and I commend them for all their hard work,” Riley says. “But I don’t think that meets any long-range test.”
That’s very gracious and diplomatic. But does that mean the mayor would fight the county over hundreds of garbage trucks rolling through his fastest-growing suburb?
“I would, and the citizens of those neighborhoods would want me to,” the mayor says.
Throwing away advice
There are County Council members who think Bees Ferry should be the home of the recycling center.
It would consolidate all solid waste operations at one site, which would be handy. And some council members hope that one day the center will have the capability to extract recyclables already in the landfill.
Of course, that would just extend the life of the landfill, which some people expected to be closing soon. ’Fraid not.
The other part of this is that some council members were simply making a point. See, last year the county’s waste management consultants recommended Bees Ferry for the new recycling center.
Some officials, like Councilman Joe Qualey, believe that the county pays exorbitantly for all this consulting. And he wants to know why, if the county thinks it’s smart to spend all that money, it won’t even take the consultant’s advice on this.
It’s a fair point. Very fair.
But, you see, waste management consultants don’t have to run for re-election in West Ashley.
And there’s more at play here.
Up in smoke
Both Mayor Riley and County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor see long-range strategy in Palmetto Commerce Parkway.
The center should be in a position to eventually take recyclables from Berkeley and Dorchester counties, maybe even Colleton. Those counties may not be able to afford their own centers, but the fees they would pay could help finance Charleston’s operations.
That’s smart business.
“This site we’re looking at is in a regional position, and that’s where we need to be,” Pryor says. “And it’s a heavy industrial area.”
Pryor says he would never inflict another solid-waste facility on any suburb, not after watching the county’s incinerator blow smoke in the back yards of locals for years.
He says the people who want to stick this new recycling center at Bees Ferry are just going to have to get over it.
“It reminds me of the 526 fight,” Pryor says. “Some people don’t know how to lose gracefully.”
Yeah, well, that’s been a Charleston trait for at least 150 years. But West Ashley doesn’t need to worry any longer.
They won’t lose this civil war.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.