Recycling center faces the can

It is said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But in the Sunnydale housing projects, neighborhood groups say refuse would just be a nuisance.

Officials are proposing a recycling center in the housing projects to help clean up trash and promote sound environmental practices. Neighborhood groups, however, say the project is ill-conceived and would blight revitalization efforts at nearby McLaren Park.

The San Francisco Housing Authority, which oversees operations at the development, pays $35,000 per month to Norcal Waste Systems to pick up trash in the area, where the recycling rate is zero percent, according to department spokeswoman Gloria Chan.

Chan said the new recycling center — a compacting and sorting machine — could save The City more than $500,000 during the next five years if it improves recycling rates by 10 percent. The center also would create a job for a resident to act as an environmental educator, she said.

The compactor is slated for a vacant lot near the foothills of McLaren Park and 50 feet from the Girls After School Academy, a community center.

Chan said the Housing Authority conducted numerous seminars with Sunnydale residents to positive responses, but some neighborhood groups are angered they weren’t involved in the planning process.

Franco Mancini, who heads Friends of McLaren Park, said the compactor would attract vermin and need constant disinfecting — an environmental danger to residents. He also questioned if the compactor is the best use for Recreation and Park Department property.

“The community has worked so hard to restore the park to the point where the public feels safe using it again,” Mancini said. “This shows disrespect to all our efforts.”

Tonya Williams, executive director of the Girls After School Academy, said city officials assured her there would be no disturbances with the compactor, and that the area would be cleaned frequently.

“We’ll be able to take our recycling there,” Williams said. “I see it as a benefit to us.”

The Recreation and Park Commission was set to vote on the compactor issue in June, but because of public outcry the item was postponed until a later date.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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