By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Rachel Chapman wants to recycle in Bowling Green, but she lives in an apartment complex.
The city of Bowling Green has made it a priority to pursue green energy options – with wind turbines to the west of the city and a solar field to the east. But no effort is being made to collect recyclables at apartment complexes.
“It’s very troubling to me that half our population doesn’t have access to this service,” Chapman told City Council last week.
Chapman said she has lived in Bowling Green for five years – first as a BGSU student and now as a teaching assistant with Bowling Green City School District. She has leased apartments from four different rental agencies over the years, and none of them have offered recycling as an option. For most of those years, Chapman had no vehicle, so it was almost impossible to recycle.
“It’s a long way to ride your bike to the recycling center,” she said.
Chapman asked if the city would consider offering recycling services to apartment complexes.
“It’s leading to huge amounts being thrown away and filling the landfill,” she said.
Council member Sandy Rowland thanked Chapman for bringing her concerns to council. She explained that the city made the decision years ago to not pick up recycling for businesses – which include apartment complexes.
Rowland suggested that Chapman talk with her current landlord to see if there might be enough interest for recycling to be offered. Chapman said she had inquired, but the landlord was not willing. “Maybe you can put some more pressure on the landlord to provide this service,” Rowland said.
While Rowland said she supports recycling, the city has to consider the economics of the issue.
“It’s a big issue. It’s a money issue,” she said.
Council member Bruce Jeffers suggested that Chapman use an economic argument to possibly convince her landlord that offering recycling could save on landfill costs.
Rowland asked Chapman to submit her recycling ideas to council in writing.
Council member Bill Herald said the recycling for apartments may be a good study topic for the city’s newly created position of sustainability coordinator.
City Council also heard from another renter at last week’s meeting – this one with concerns about an overwhelming heating bill.
Kyle Evans said his utility bills ranged from $370 to $480 a month. When a health issue rendered him unable to work, he called to tell the city utility department that he couldn’t pay his heating bills. Evans said he was told his electric would be shut off if the bills weren’t paid.
Since he had an infant son, Evans said his family was forced to move.
Council President Mike Aspacher said the utility department has policies that have to be followed consistently. “They are meant to be fair,” he said. Not knowing the specifics of his case, Aspacher advised Evans to contact the city utilities office to find out how his electric bill could be reduced.
Evans said he had contacted the office, and a worker came out to check his meter and made several suggestions on how he could reduce electric bills. However, Evans said his landlord refused to make any repairs.
“It’s a losing battle,” he said. “Nobody’s going to tell that landlord that he needs to fix it.”
Evans said the city utilities department should offer discounts to struggling college students, local residents with drafty historical homes, and seniors on fixed incomes. The city has all this green energy – from wind turbines and solar field – that ought to add up to savings for citizens, he said.