Sometime in the next few days the city will announce that it’s expanding its popular but limited blue cart recycling program to swaths of the north lakefront, according to aldermen and other recycling advocates.
Over the past few days, two aldermen–Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward and Scott Waguespack of the 32nd–have been telling constituents that the program will be available to many of them beginning at the end of May.
In the oddly shaped 32nd Ward, the easy, single-stream recycling service will be offered to “low-density” residences–those with four or fewer units–north of Belmont, according to a newsletter Waguespack’s office sent out a few days ago. It says he’s still trying to bring service as far south as Diversey. Tunney announced earlier this week in his own newsletter that all low-density homes in his ward would be included in the expansion.
Aldermen from across the city say their constituents have been clamoring for blue cart service, which has proven to be far more effective at diverting waste from landfills and inspiring participation than the city’s blue bag program. Last fall the Department of Streets and Sanitation, which is in charge of city recycling, was preparing to expand the blue cart service to most of the neighborhoods along north and south lakefronts, but the plan was killed during budget negotiations between Mayor Daley and aldermen reluctant to sign off on tens of millions of dollars in property tax hikes, most of which were passed anyway.
Since then the department has been vague about if and when it would try to resuscitate its plan. Late last fall about 3,000 new households in the 40th and 48th wards received blue carts even though those areas weren’t included in official announcements about the program–officials quietly said providing the service there was cost-effective because these homes were near the 46th and 47th wards, which were included in the program last year.
And Tuesday Streets and San spokesman Matt Smith refused to provide any details about the announcements made by Waguespack and Tunney. “Until we’re ready to come forward with it we’re not going to say anything publicly. We have to get our ducks in a row,” Smith said. “But that certainly would be a goal, to expand in the future.”
Some sources say the city is worried that budget pressures will force it to revoke its plans again. In particular, officials are worried the city won’t get funding help it needs from the state, which has been erratic about making payments and releasing grants.
That apparently hasn’t stopped them from scheduling public educational meetings in the 44th Ward. According to Tunney’s newsletter, city officials will discuss how the program works at 7 PM on Thursday, May 8, at Agassiz School (2851 N. Seminary) and on Monday, May 19, at Sheil Park (3505 N. Southport).