- Ohio residents had many questions about the Optiva Group LLC's "waste mall" concept at a meeting of the Brunswick City Council on Monday. The company is proposing a 30-year contract with Medina County to operate out of the Central Processing Facility in Westfield Township. Companies offering services from recycling to waste-to-energy would operate on the site.
- Legislators were frustrated by Optiva's lack of specificity and concerned with the company's ability to complete such a large project. Optiva President Ed Kwiecien said his company currently has a non-disclosure agreement with the Medina County Port Authority which limits the details he can share.
- County Sanitary Engineer Amy Lyon-Galvin said residents will have more opportunities to give their input. The EPA must first provide feedback on a draft of the plan before a 30-day written comment period begins. Lyon-Galvin estimated this won't happen for at least 15 months.
The "waste mall" concept is promising in theory, but may be challenging in practice. Centralizing operations for the county would likely make truck routing more efficient and potentially save money. The site could also create up to 100 jobs if used for its full 500,000 ton per year capacity. The challenge will be selling this idea to residents who don't want to see a high concentration of trucks coming to one site in the area. Casella recently ran into a similar issue when proposing a new transfer station next to its existing material recovery facility in Boston.
Even if the project itself is accepted by residents, questions raised about the company's ability to deliver are worth further exploration. Some of the company's "preferred vendors" have filed lawsuits against it in the past, though Optiva's Kwiecien said only one of them is ongoing and it's unrelated to the project. One council member also pointed out that Optiva is currently operating out of a house, according to the Ohio Secretary of State. Kwiecien said this was true, but the company is looking for office space.
Continued community engagement was encouraged and the proposal will be discussed throughout the county for many more months. So far, the project's potential doesn't seem to have outweighed residents' concerns.
"It seems like something for the future, something that could work," Brunswick resident Richard Prospal said at the meeting, as reported by the Medina County Gazette. "However, I have many doubts."