By Sherrema Bower
The City of Flint’s recycling program and the closing of Points of Distribution Sites (PODS) were topics of interest at the Flint Neighborhoods United (FNU) monthly meeting at Woodside Church, Saturday, Sept. 9. About 25 people attended, representing a variety of community groups.
Heather Griffin, waste services coordinator at the City of Flint, summarized the City’s recycling program, started in 2013, when Republic Services contracted with the City of Flint. Since then the registered resident participation in the City’s recycling program has grown from eight percent to 27 percent.
This is significant, according to Griffin, in a city where 50 percent of residents rent their homes and where “six months has been the longest ‘sustainable’ program attempted.” The increase is likely due to the City of Flint partnering with Keep Genesee County Beautiful and the Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission to promote the recycling program. Damage to the environment is minimized when plastic (and other) items get recycled, instead of tossing them away to decompose in a landfill, she explained.
Griffin said given the numerous plastic water bottles often seen in the streets and on grass and sidewalks since the start of the Flint water crisis, many residents may not yet know there is a specific recycling program just for the empty water bottles. Residents can sign up by calling Griffin’s office at 810-766-7135, ext. 2605, and stop in to pick up the large clear, plastic bags. For residential curbside recycling sign-up, residents can call Republic Services at (800) 438-0966; at Keep Genesee County Beautiful at (810) 767-9696; or the City of Flint at (810) 410-1134, if they live in a single family or up to a two-family dwelling. Weekly residential curbside recycling is provided for Flint residents on their normal service day.
She said for residents of multi-family dwellings of three families or more, the City and Republic Services are at work on a pilot project for alternative recycling drop-off locations. Details are not yet confirmed, but Griffin said she hopes to have something in place soon.
The schedule and information about what can be thrown away or recycled, are available online at www.cityofflint.com, under the Residents & Visitors tab, Residents/Sanitation.) Some members in the meeting signed a sheet to form a committee to write an ordinance requiring Flint residents to recycle.
Design Studio students to address recycling
Griffin introduced two UM-Flint students from the Design Studio, charged with developing branding for the City’s recycling program and also giving it a name. Griffin explained the students will be surveying Flint residents with questions like, “What do you want to see in a recycling program?” and “What [do you think] would get the community to recycle?” Having more residents see the value in recycling is an important step in getting them to do so, she said, as well as the benefits of more jobs created when Flint establishes a recycling facility staffed by paid employees.
On an unrelated yet similar note, Griffin said an AmeriCorps Service Day Sept. 11, would send volunteers to begin clean up two of Flint’s three levees: the Thread Creek Levee and Swartz Creek Levee Systems. The third, known as the Flint River Levee System, would be cleaned up another day.
In a post-meeting email, Griffin supplied specific information about the levees and wrote that they “were built through a local co-operation assurance partnership between the Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Flint.” She mentioned that the levees went up after a large flood in Flint in the Spring of 1947. Later she said she wished to clarify that the levees “may have been constructed ‘indirectly’ due to the flood, but not necessarily because of the flood.”
POD updates offered
Chief Recovery Officer (CFO) at the City of Flint, Jameca Patrick-Singleton, briefed FNU members about the PODS closing. These closings took place on Aug. 11 and Sept. 5, respectively, following water test results, which showed that the city’s lead levels are below the federal lead-limit for the second consecutive six-month period.
Four PODS will remain open indefinitely in the City’s first, 4th, 6th, and 9th wards. There were originally 45 self-service PODS around the city in all wards, yet all but 10 will close, Singleton said. A map of locations of all PODS, is available at the City of Flint’s website. However, Community Outreach Resident Education (CORE) can still be reached for filters and water testing, at 810- 238-6700).
Sinkholes around sites where lead pipe replacement has taken place is also becoming a problem, some FNU members said. Patrick-Singleton said the Flint Action and Sustainability Team (FAST) Start Program should be notified of any sink holes by calling 810-410-1133. If the sinkhole has formed within 30 days of the pipework, the contractor will come back out to fix it. If, however, it is past 30 days, then the City will do it. Patrick-Singleton said water filters should be continuously used until 2020, when all lead pipes are to be replaced in the city.
CFGF funding follow up requested
Other discussion focused on a recent briefing by the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF), and the Ruth Mott Foundation (RMF), led by Presidents Isaiah Oliver and Handy Lindsey, on Thursday, Sept. 7. General comments in the room included that the community should focus attention on how area non-profit organizations and agencies who receive funds from CFGF and RMF spend them. Flint Public Library (FPL) Director of Library Services, Kay Schwartz, described Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, established at FPL in 2016. It provides one book a month to every registered Flint child from ages zero to five. Schwartz said the funding for the program came from CFGF.
Groups represented at the meeting included:
- Neighborhood Recreation Coalition
- Flint SOUP
- University Park Association
- Ballenger Highway Neighborhood Association
- City of Flint
- Flint Public Library
- Habitat for Humanity
- University of Michigan Flint Design Center
- West Flint Community Watch
- Crim Fitness Foundation
EVM staff writer Sherrema Bower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.