July 8, 2002

CELEBRATING OUR FREEDOM on the 4th of July was a more contemplative exercise than usual for many this year. Perhaps one of the only silver linings in the dreadful cloud of the September 11 terrorist attacks is an awakened recognition of just how precious our freedom is. Hopefully, we are also now more attentive to the responsibilities that come with it.

For some of us, that includes taking care of our environment in ways that will make this planet a healthy place for future generations. It may seem mundane next to defending our people against deadly attacks, but here it is: Recycling matters. I know some of you are asking how I can talk about garbage and national security in the same breath, but the collecting and disposal of our waste relates to dozens of important health and land use issues that are indeed important.

That said, here's the good news - we have the opportunity to get a really effective and efficient recycling program started here in Sunol. Currently we have to take our recyclables to Pleasanton, which many find just inconvenient enough not to do it. Jim O'Laughlin has been working with the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (WMA), an independent agency with a budget of about $15 million raised from dumping fees at all of the county's dump sites. The goal of the WMA is to reduce the amount of material going into landfills.

If Sunolians want a recycling program, the WMA will start one for us. All we have to do is agree to manage it. Tri-Ced, a recycling program in Union City, would provide a collection container and replace it as needed. There would be no cost to us because the WMA would pick up the tab. "The question is, how many people are interested and want to help?" Jim asked. "We will find out and go from there." Jim will lead a meeting on Thursday, July 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sunol Glen Community Room to get the answer to that question and help find the answers to questions you might have.

"What we need is a site and enough people to monitor the site when it is open," Jim explained. "It would probably be open for a two or three-hour period each week, such as Saturday morning, and we would need someone to open the facility, monitor it and lock it up. It would take about 25 individuals who would commit to doing this two times a year, and a small coordinating committee to deal with scheduling and any other issues that come up."

The container Tri-Ced would supply us has three sections for different types of recycling, and the company would also make bins available for household use. The site for the container needs to be secure to prevent the dumping of inappropriate materials, and Jim has noted three such locations in Sunol: the county's natural gas and equipment yard, the Bond Street end of the Community Park, and the Sunol Glen School yard on Bond Street. Jim said, "If there were any problems with the operation of the recycling site, it could be terminated at any time."

The need to recycle is something that most everyone recognizes, but it is not easy to do without the curbside pickup that many cities have. "A Sunol recycling site would allow individuals to recycle with minimum effort and know that 100% will be recycled," Jim concluded. If there is not enough interest, the project will be dropped, so if you cannot attend the meeting but are willing to help monitor the site, or if you have questions, please call Jim at 925-862-2550.

QUICK CALENDAR NOTE: There will be Community Drumming at the Little Brown Church of Sunol, 141 Kilkare Road, on July 14 and 28. No drumming experience is required - just "an open mind and a spirit of adventure," said Pastor Tom Thresher. "We have some drums to share, but if you have them, please bring your own and any to share." Please give Pastor Tom a call at 925-862-2004 for info, or to let him know you'll be attending.

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