Changes are in the works for a county-owned piece of property adjacent to the Humane Society of Putnam County.
Officials with the West Central Solid Waste District, operators of recycling programs in the county, have set their sights on a 16-acre plot of land on the south side of State Road 240 about a quarter-mile west of County Home Road (CR 500 East), directly in front of the animal shelter.
WCSWD Director Jane Collisi told the BannerGraphic Wednesday that preliminary plans call for the construction of a 2,500-square-foot building to house the agency's headquarters, plus provide space for school children to come and be educated about recycling.
The group would also like to move its yard waste recycling center, currently located on the southeast corner of Veteran's Memorial Highway and Zinc Mill Road in Greencastle, to the new property on SR 240.
It appears the group has gained the support of the Putnam County Commissioners who earlier this week instructed the county attorney to begin investigating a potential agreement with West Central to allow for use of the property.
Commissioner Dennis O'Hair said this week that the agreement could potentially state that if somewhere down the road the recycling agency ceases to exist or decides it wants to move from that location, the ownership of the property would revert back to the county.
Preliminarily, the county is looking to lease the property to West Central for a period of years at a rate of $1 per year, similar to the agreement that currently exists between the county and the Humane Society.
During this week's meeting of the recycling district's Board of Directors, O'Hair and fellow Commissioner Gene Beck said they were in support of the agency using the property.
"What better way to use this ground than for the education of our kids," O'Hair told fellow members of the West Central Board during their Wednesday meeting. "This has been the dream of some members on the board for years."
O'Hair, Beck and Greencastle Mayor Nancy Michael are members of the West Central Board along with representatives from the three other member counties of the recycling district: Parke, Montgomery and Morgan.
Putnam County Commissioner Kristina Warren, who is not a member of the West Central Board, said she too supports the idea but has a few questions that she would like to have answered in the meantime.
"I agree with the concept; it's just do we have the land?" she said. "I support it as long as we make sure the acreage is correct and it's going to be the proper site."
West Central officials have said they will need approximately 10 acres, though the site itself is about 16.
A concern for Warren is the yard waste recycling center that is proposed to be constructed on the property. She wonders how well the neighbors who live near the property will receive it.
Collisi said she wants to assure officials and the community that there is nothing toxic or hazardous about the yard waste site that currently sits across the highway from Greencastle Middle School, nor will there be in the new one.
"There's nothing that you couldn't put in your own backyard compost pile," Collisi said. "It's just limbs, sticks, grass clippings and things like that."
Beck and O'Hair pointed out the fact that the property currently has an extensive stand of trees on it, which they believe would provide ample screening to any piles of yard waste on the site.
Collisi believes the trees may also provide a nice area for a nature trail that students can use when they come to the facility on field trips.
Currently, the recycling district's education coordinator has to travel to the various elementary schools in the county and the district to offer educational programs to students.
Collisi believes that if the new building is constructed, it could include a hands-on education center where students can come and learn about recycling in ways that they've not been able to before.
"It will just really enhance our educational capabilities," she said.
In addition to helping the students, Collisi hopes to assist the teachers by operating a "Reuse Center" where they can come and pick up recyclable items to be used for classroom craft projects. Items the recycling district could collect and then distribute free to teachers include baby food jars, toilet paper tubes, pencils and others.
"Just anything that can be collected and reused," Collisi said.
Right now the building project is only in the concept stage. If the county commissioners approve the use of the land and the project gains the necessary zoning approvals, officials hope to begin construction in the next one to three years.