October 24, 2021

Security system to guard against improper dumping

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Cortland Youth Bureau grounds crew member Blake Allen unloads brush at the Cortland composting facility on South Franklin Street in Cortland on Wednesday.

The Cortland Department of Public Works is cracking down on people who dump unwanted materials in its composting area.

For nearly 20 years, the yard waste composting facility on South Franklin Street has been receiving materials like rubble, PVC pipe, roof shingles, mattresses, appliances, tires and food waste when someone from the department is not on premises. It costs the city extra money to haul to a proper landfill.

Public Works Deputy Superintendent Nic Dovi said signs will be put up saying what is and what is not accepted at the site. The city is soliciting requests for proposals until Tuesday to install a security system track people who do dump unwanted materials.

Areas where residential and commercial customers can drop off their materials will be separated, with the residential entrance closer to Port Watson Street to keep residents away from safety hazards like a grinder used to make mulch.

The materials allowed at compost facility will remain the same: leaves, grass clippings, shrubs, garden waste and branches no bigger than 6 inches.

“Eventually, we will have a clean product without garbage debris for people to utilize,” Dovi said.

Jared Popoli, a conservation assistant from the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District who helped draft the changes, said they are the result of four to five years of conversations.

“I think we are in a good spot now to implement these changes,” Popoli said.

The department is also considering putting the finished compost into smaller rows called windrows, 6 feet wide and 4 feet high, to be more easily turned.

The compost from the facility can be used by Cortland County residents for mulching projects instead of topsoil. This mulch can be planted around shrubs, gardens and bushes.

Popoli said the Soil and Water Conservation District has used compost from the site in the past with projects such as replanting willow trees at Dwyer Park in Preble. The city is also looking at using the compost when replanting areas surrounding construction projects.