Putnam County landfill debate nears end

Many residents don't want landfill run by private company

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – The debate over what to do with the Putnam County landfill is nearing an end.

County commissioners held their final workshop Tuesday before they vote on whether to sell the landfill and have it run by a private company.

At the meeting, the general feeling was frustration from the people of Putnam county. They don't want this landfill to be sold to private company Republic Services.

They fear Republic turning what is a small, county landfill into a much larger, regional one.

"All they are doing is screaming 'we're poor, we're broke,' and 'we need to sell the landfill to make money,'" Putnam County resident Gordon Von Pusch said.

ONLINE: Website advocates against privatizing landfill

Many said that the 340 acre landfill would become an eyesore and environmental hazard for the county. County commissioners have said that if the sale of the landfill doesn't happen, they would have to triple the cost of waste collection for those living in Putnam county.

"There's no part of it that I think is sensible. It doesn't rationalize with any of these people going through here," Von Pusch said. "This is a poor county. People can't afford that. This is ridiculous."

Many people who live in Putnam County have let the county commissioners know that they don't want the landfill to be privatized. They said that there are much better ways to handle the landfill than selling it for roughly 20 cents on the dollar.

"Here's the chance for Putnam County to get a head start on the problems we've got, rather than dragging more garbage in," said John Spell. "Then you still have environmental issues."

Commissioner Larry Harvey said that he thinks there could be some other alternatives to selling the landfill and that the county has to take a long-term approach to this issue.

"I'm looking at any alternative we can find," Harvey said. "I believe we should be looking at trash 20 years from now. I think we should be looking at recycling, reusing, and rethinking the things we are doing

"It would help the community, the environment and would stop them from keeping on going up on our garbage fees," Spell said.

Other options, including building a new facility that would turn waste into fuels and could bring 1,200 jobs to the area, were discussed.

"We don't want to be known as the trash capitol of Northeast Florida," Harvey said. "We want to be known as the innovative trash place or for beautiful blue ways and trails."

The commissioners will vote on the sale to Republic Services next Tuesday night at 5 p.m.