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Ferndale council approves waste reduction and recycling master plan

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published November 18, 2019

FERNDALE — The city of Ferndale is moving forward with a waste reduction and recycling master plan for the downtown.

The City Council approved at its Nov. 12 meeting the master plan, with the scope of the plan to be crafted by Ann Arbor-based consulting firm Resource Recycling Systems.

According to a city document, Resource Recycling Systems will help set a “policy and framework, set meaningful waste reduction targets, and identify effective metrics to help improve waste management in our downtown/central business district, and provide funding recommendations for improved service.”

The contract approved by the council will pay $63,627 for Resource Recycling Systems’ services.

Environmental Sustainability Planner Erin Quetell said the master plan mainly came out of the need for better waste management services in Ferndale and its downtown business district.

Goals highlighted by Quetell include increasing recycling options, supporting infrastructure that provides critical services for the community and setting the policy framework and master plan with a 20-year outlook.

“(Resource Recycling Systems) would evaluate all the waste in our downtown, look at recycling, look at landfill and look at organic waste, which we currently don’t manage in our downtown and central business district,” she said.

“They might do some on-site auditing and then literally looking at our trash,” she continued, adding that Resource Recycling Systems also will use previous research with similar municipalities to make determinations for Ferndale.

Out of the four firms that applied, none of which were local, City Manager Joe Gacioch said Resource Recycling Systems was the only qualified bidder who understood the local market in terms of working with the Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority communities.

“That is a helpful understanding of the characterization of our regional challenges — and our local challenges — so they understand who they’re working with,” he said.

After a question raised by Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pawlica regarding if Ferndale would be able to afford Resource Recycling Systems’ recommendations, Gacioch said that they would create some funding recommendations as part of the plan.

Pawlica asked the question because he didn’t want the city to create another study that just sits on the shelf after completion. As he put it, the mayor pro tem remembered three parking studies performed by Ferndale from 2000-2010 that all concluded that the city needed a parking structure, and then nothing happened.

“I just want to make sure that we’re not doing another study, and we say, ‘Oh my God, it’s going to cost us a half a million dollars to implement this project,’ and then not be able to do anything about it,” Pawlica said.

Quetell believes the study will show Ferndale some things officials already know but that it will give them something to provide solutions to fix the city’s downtown recycling numbers, which range from 10%-12% and are “pretty low for communities like ours.”

“We know that the level of service in our downtown isn’t optimal, and I think that there’s just a lot of information that’s missing right now, and that’ll help us collect all that information so that we can really make better decisions on how we’re managing our waste in our downtown,” she said.