Interacting With the Public
Every transfer station has neighbors, whether they are industrial, commercial, residential, or merely vacant land. The term “neighbor” should be broadly interpreted, as some of those impacted might not be immediately adjacent to the transfer station. For example, vehicles traveling to and from a transfer station could significantly affect a residential neighborhood a mile away if those vehicles travel on residential streets.
An important part of successful transfer station operations is engaging in constructive dialogue with the surrounding community. The appropriate level of interaction between transfer station personnel or representatives and their neighbors varies depending on many factors. A transfer station in the middle of a warehouse district with direct access to expressways might find that joining the local business association and routinely picking up offsite litter are adequate community activities.
While a transfer station located adjacent to homes and restaurants might find that monthly meetings with neighbors, landscaping improvements, commitments to employ local workers, an odor reporting hotline, and daily cleanup of litter are more appropriate. When developing a community outreach plan, transfer station operators should consider the following:
Develop a clear explanation of the need for the transfer station and the benefits it will provide to the immediate community and surrounding area.
Develop a clear process for addressing community concerns that is communicated to the neighborhood even before the facility becomes operational.
Designate one person as the official contact for neighborhood questions and concerns.
Ideally, this person would regularly work at the transfer station and be available to respond quickly to questions and concerns. The person should also be good at listening carefully to community concerns before responding. Advertising an e-mail address or Web site is another way to provide information and allow community input.
Organize periodic facility tours. Neighbors unfamiliar with the transfer station’s operations are more likely to have misconceptions or misunderstand the facility’s role.
Establish positive relationships by working with community-based organizations, improvement districts, civic associations, business associations, youth employment bureaus, and other organizations. Interaction with the community should focus on positive issues, not just occasions when a neighbor is upset about odor, litter, or traffic.
Offer support services such as newspaper drives, household hazardous waste (HHW) drop-off days, and spring cleaning disposal at the facility.