Neat project, but no thanks

City of Woodbury

A handful of Math and Science Academy students got an unvarnished lesson in the complexities of city government at Wednesday’s Woodbury City Council meeting.

The students, members of the Flying Pigs Lego Robotics team, developed a comprehensive plan to institute a new trash collection system in town. It was a team project. They presented it to the council, each student stepping to the microphone during a public comment portion of the meeting to explain part of it.

They said their proposal, a sort of zone-based organized hauling program, would help homeowners and small trash haulers and could reduce wear on local streets because fewer trucks would be rumbling around town.

Of course, trash hauling is not a new issue to council members. They recenty tweaked the solid waste ordinance after a year-long moratorium on additional haulers.

Those Math and Science Academy students barely were seated after their presentation when Mayor Bill Hargis made it clear the city is not going to change its policy to further limit the number of private haulers.

"I don’t believe we’re going to go down the path that you want us to," Hargis told the students. He explained that the issue has been vetted among policy makers and that he believes the "free enterprise system does work."

Hargis said he does not buy arguments that heavy garbage trucks ruin city streets. He also explained that his son’s effort to rally neighbors around a common hauler drew mixed response, but over time most neighbors ended up going with the same company. Organized hauling would divide the community, he said.

"They’re for your concept or they’re adamantly opposed to your concept," Hargis said of residents, adding that the students’ points were "well taken."

Council member Paul Rebholz had a bit milder response to the youngsters, commending them on their detailed project. Rebholz said he believes multiple trash trucks rolling down residential streets could become a safety issue.

"I do think that over time safety becomes another consideration," he said.

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