Ralph Seago lives at the end of Violet Lane next to the town’s free public dumping area for yard waste and, as the expression goes, he “had it up to here” with the dumping situation on Sunday, Sept. 8.
More specifically, the waste overflowed out of the small area and blocked Seago’s driveway to the point he couldn’t get out.
“It’s gone on like this for two years,” Seago said Sept. 11. “It’s not monitored and I’d say 50 percent of the users are commercial companies. It’s supposed to be for residents only. Probably about 10 percent of the users are Eagle residents and the other 40 percent is people from other towns.”
Eagle Town Manager Jon Stavney acknowledged the site is abused by commercial landscape companies, which dump large loads of tree trimmings, weeds and grass clippings. He said this is the first time he knows of that the pile has blocked Seago’s driveway.
“I’d be upset, too,” he said. “It’s been a big foliage year and we’re now checking on it more frequently.”
Stavney said the town normally checks the pile every couple weeks and compacts it with a front-end loader to make room for more. The waste is ground up in a wood chipper every two years.
“It costs $50,000 to grind it,” Stavney said. “If we had to monitor it, we would probably close it on weekends and people would have to pay to dump there.”
Eagle Public Works Director Dusty Walls agreed with Stavney that this is the first time the pile has created a real problem for Seago.
“I don’t think the pile has ever blocked access to his driveway before,” Walls said. “We usually keep up with it and we got behind on it last week. We cleaned it up Sunday after he called.”
Seago said he’s been dealing with this kind of issue for two years.
“Usually when it overflows I can still drive around it,” he said, pointing out some other ongoing issues. “And people dump other trash here, too. You’re just not seeing any now because the town cleaned it up after I told them I called the newspaper.”
The good news is that current situation is likely to change when Gypsum’s biomass plant becomes operational next year.
“This is a short-term thing,” Stavney said. “And this is a good example of why we should charge to allow people to dump there. Violet Lane is a road that pretty much exists for the sewer plant, not for the dumping ground.”
Meanwhile, there are bigger plans for the property along Violet Lane.
In 2011, the town helped Eagle County buy 7.5 acres from Seago for $1.6 million. The town chipped in $160,000 and the county used $908,000 from its open space fund and $575,000 from its capital improvement fund for the purchase.
The county intends to use a portion of the property to construct a future secondary access to its fairground complex across the Eagle River. The remaining area will be preserved as open space and will be accessible by the public for fishing and other recreational opportunities.
The town plans to build a lower basin water treatment plant on its land upstream from the sewer plant.
“I’d say 50 percent of the users are commercial companies. It’s supposed to be for residents only.”
Violet Lane resident