SPSA’s about-face is wise

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Sometimes the squeakiest wheel does get the grease.

The Southeastern Public Service Authority announced earlier this month that it was closing six part-time collection sites for hazardous household waste, asking homeowners to haul that waste to two full-time sites: One in Suffolk and one in Virginia Beach.

It was a terrible decision — made to cut costs, according to the Authority — that left people with two choices: Hire someone to haul away the material, or dump that material in an unsafe and environmentally dangerous method.

Neither choice was a good one.

On Wednesday, SPSA reversed itself, no doubt because of the negative public reaction to the decision to close six of the stations.

Apparently, enough noise was made for Authority members to listen and reconsider its first decision that would have closed the stations at the end of June.

The difference to the fiscal year’s budget is $144,000, or about $460 per week per transfer station.

Household hazardous waste includes paints, solvents, automotive fluids, lawn care products, gardening supplies and pool maintenance chemicals.

There are two such stations operating in the area, one in Franklin and one on Four Square Road in Smithfield. The Franklin station on General Thomas Highway is open just three hours a month, from 9 a.m. to noon on the last Thursday of each month, according to Felicia Blow, SPSA’s director of public relations.

&uot;I think this is actually going to be a better solution, because this was always such an awkward schedule,&uot; she said at the time.

Awkward schedules or not, SPSA made a shortsighted call. At least the Authority had the good sense to reverse itself.