Gerald Smith

Gerald Smith

The city of Maquoketa may wade into the garbage and recycling business to fill the need when Imagine the Possibilities, formerly known as DAC, ends its recycling service June 30. 

The end of the recycling program “opens the door for us to have a frank conversation … about what interest the city has in terms of looking and going forward, particularly with the beautification of our community,” City Manager Gerald Smith told the Maquoketa City Council Monday evening.

The council could take no action because it was not on the agenda but steered the topic to the city’s Public Works Committee for further guidance.

A few weeks ago, Imagine the Possibilities announced it would end the recycling program at its Maple Street location in Maquoketa. Imagine officials said the nonprofit was no longer making enough money to maintain a viable service in Jackson County.

This affects patrons who want to reduce waste going to the landfills, allowing them to drop of such items as cardboard, plastic containers, newspapers, and even unused clothing.

Since Imagine’s announcement, conversations have been swirling around the community about where residents could take their recycling after June 30, Smith said.

“Recycling is a very important aspect to communities that wish to be progressive,” Smith noted.

He said the city’s Property Maintenance Board at one point talked about the city operating a citywide trash pickup program.

“Maybe this is the time for us to engage in this discussion” and include a city recycling program, Smith told the council Monday.

Mayor Don Schwenker requested that the Public Works Committee weigh the benefits and hindrances of operating a city-run trash and recycling pickup program versus private haulers who already do it. He added that city finances made him hesitant to start another city department. 

“There’s significant cash up front,” Smith explained. The city would have to buy the necessary equipment and meet insurance requirements. 

“It’s very pricy for a self-run program, but certainly it’s an enterprise, and as such you have to fund it by users,” Smith explained.

The city’s Public Works Committee will meet to further discuss the issue.

Meanwhile, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors will hold a work session about county recycling on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 10:30 a.m. in the basement community room at the Jackson County Courthouse. The county has a rural recycling program with drop-off locations at Preston, Bellevue, Iron Hill, and Otter Creek. Imagine the Possibilities has been paid to pick up those rural recyclables, but the county will have to find a new recycler after June 30 if the program is to continue.