By MIKE WILLIAMS
Plans for a new large item drop site on the former Red Carpet Inn property outside the Town of Pulaski prompted a county businessman to speak out Tuesday night at a meeting of Pulaski Town Council.
Dublin attorney Mike Barbour addressed council on the planned Public Service Authority drop site near Exit 94 off I-81 and just outside the town limits.
“I found it extremely odd, frankly to consider locating a drop site on land adjacent to an interstate interchange,” Barbour began.
Barbour said he is well aware of all the communities, including Pulaski, that were effectively bypassed by the interstate and “how critical these exit interchanges are.”
“All of the towns and communities along the 325-mile length of I-81 think the land around interchanges is extremely valuable – as a gateway to the town in this instance – while other communities see it as very valuable as primary economic development area,” Barbour told council.
“I was very surprised that there was a plan to locate a drop site at Exit 94,” he noted.
Barbour said a letter he had sent earlier to the Pulaski County Public Service Authority Board expressed his three concerns about the plan.
One, he said, was location.
“Not just at the interchange, but my location concern has to do with the current zoning there, has to do with the residential zoning directly across Old Route 100 from the proposed site and other matters as well,” he said.
Barbour said he also has a concern about the need for the drop site.
Saying he was aware of the recent change in garbage service in the town, Barbour said he found it odd the PSA would want to add another drop site within a mile or two of a customer base it no longer has.
Lastly, he said, is his concern over the cost.
“I haven’t seen any plans for the proposed drop site, any estimates of cost including for environmental abatement, taking the building down, paving, fencing, a significant potential issue with stormwater management at that site. It is elevated above the residential properties across Old Route 100. I don’t see where any of that has been calculated or even considered.
“But that’s really not your all’s problem actually,” Barbour stated.
He then read the final paragraph of his letter to the PSA board, which he said was actually a suggestion.
“Would it not be possible for your board to reach out to the Pulaski Town Council to explore the possibility that county PSA customers can use the town’s new drop site,” Barbour asked.
Praising the town’s drop site behind the sheriff’s office as “very nice, very attractive,” Barbour said there is precedent for such an arrangement. Dublin residents, he noted, are not PSA customers, but have permission to use PSA drop sites.
Such an arrangement in Pulaski, he said, would “certainly entail far less expense than the PSA operating its own drop site at Exit 94.”
He said that arrangement would also save the town money by sharing expenses with the PSA, and further would serve as “a positive example of cooperation among government entities in Pulaski County.”
Barbour encouraged council to reach out to the PSA on the issue, noting he had also in his letter encouraged the PSA to do the same.
Members of council did not comment on Barbour’s presentation.
It’s not likely either side will reach out to the other on the drop site issue, considering the way the two sides parted company late last year.
The town notified the PSA early in 2022 that it planned to stop collecting PSA garbage payments from town citizens as it had since 2002.
The town blamed the move on town staff fielding questions “all the time” from the PSA’s town customers about garbage service, holiday collection, etc.
Burcham, last February, stated citizens “have grown increasingly vocal about not getting responses from the PSA and they call us because they pay us for garbage.
“It’s created a workload for the staff in addition to billing – answering and responding to those questions. We think we need to be held responsible for what we are responsible for, and garbage is not one of those decisions. We just think it is a better situation if they are responsible for the bill collection,” Burcham added.
She added then that the 5 percent ($42,000) rebate the town earned from the collection agreement with the PSA “does not begin to cover the number of hours that staff take trying to respond to questions regarding trash collection, the PSA holiday schedule, complaints over no return calls, in addition to being blamed for increases over which we have no control.”
Both PSA Director Jared Linkous and Nancy Burchett, Vice Chairman of the PSA Board of Directors, addressed council and asked it to reconsider the decision to terminate the agreement between the town and PSA.
Burchett told council that when the PSA board received word of the town’s decision to cancel the agreement, the board and staff were not aware of any issues mentioned in the town’s letter.
“So, we w2ould like to have an opportunity to address those and hopefully resolve those issues,” Burchett said.
Linkous warned of negative impacts for the town and PSA if the agreement was terminated.
“At the end of the day, it is going to be negative impacts to PSA, to town customers, through rate increases and reduced service and we fill like there will be negative impacts for town staff receiving complaints from folks who aren’t getting trash picked up for non-payment. The town won’t get $42,000 for billing service. It really feels like a lose-lose for everyone involved,” he said.