After months of delays, the Knox County Solid Waste Management District this week took a a signifiant step toward the purchase of its own property.
SWMD Director Michelle Smith said the organization’s board of directors on Monday voted in favor of a resolution allowing her to sign off on a purchase agreement for the old Anthis Heating and Cooling building, located next to the Moose Lodge on South 17th Street.
The move comes after receiving board approval in March to increase the annual user fee for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Though the $5 per household fee increase was needed to continue offering basic recycling services, Smith says it helped solidify their ability to purchase the new property.
Smith indicated that, while there are a few “loose ends” that still need to be tied up, she’s hopeful the district will be moving into the new facility by July.
“We will still have some logistical things to work out, but my goal is to be in the new building by summer,” Smith said.
The new structure will allow for a more centralized recycling drop-off point as well as the potential to expand hours and services.
The district, currently located at 1303 Willow St., is maxed out on storage space and has no room for expanding services, Smith said, adding that one goal in the search for a new building is to house everything in one space.
Ideally, the new facility will accommodate SWMD’s offices, the Household Hazardous Waste drop, as well as a centralized recycling point.
“It will take us a little time to figure out our new drop-off system at the new location — and probably a little longer before we could get our HHW drop moved there,” Smith said Monday.
SWMD doesn’t own any property currently and therefore relies on partnerships with other agencies and organizations to find homes for its recycling centers.
The district currently has a partnership with the Vincennes Street and Sanitation Department at 1600 Bayout St. for its HHW collection site.
In Monroe City, the district uses space outside of the Blue Jean Center, and in Sandborn the recycling trailer is located on city property utilized by the water department.
But there is no centralized access for county residents — a problem that was exacerbated when Republic Services stopped accepting recyclables from the public in early 2020.
The new SWMD location would alleviate that issue, says Smith, who is now waiting for approval from the county council in order to move forward with the purchase.
“If council approves the measure this month, we hope to close on the property in June,” she said. “If we can first get a few obstacles out of the way, I think things will start to move quickly,” she said.
Smith said the organization’s monthly meeting was notably absent one of its members and champions — the late Randy Crismore.
Crismore, a long-time county councilman and retired Vincennes police officer, died unexpectedly at his home on April 12, sending a wide-reaching shockwave throughout the city and county.
Smith said it was Commissioner and SWMD board member Kellie Streeter, who suggested that the organization dedicate its new building to Crismore’s memory.
“He was a big supporter of ours and of us moving forward with the fee increase so we could make these needed changes,” Smith said, adding that the the plan to name the new facility after Crismore is “a very good thing.”