Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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We’re not recycling much, and some think they know why

Proposal for new system elicits finger pointing, new suggestions

After Wednesday’s story about an effort to increase recycling, some readers called the Sun to say the problem really boils down to laziness on the part of too many Clark County residents.

“Why can’t they recycle the way it is now?” said a man who moved here from California.

The story was about Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani’s plan to introduce an ordinance in January to bring single-bin recycling to Clark County without increasing trash fees. The county has a abysmal record on residential recycling, with a rate hovering around 2 percent.

Another caller said the commissioner is right that the separate red, white and blue bins are too small. But, he said, it’s also hard to remember which weeks recyclables are picked up, and recycling once every two weeks can mean large piles of the stuff outside your back door.

And these are just homeowners. Residents of multifamily complexes don’t even have recycling.

Don’t about half of all Clark County residents live in apartments, duplexes and the like?

Closer to one-third, according to county planners. That means roughly 257,500 households are not included in Republic Services’ recycling program.

Is the county considering any other forms of persuasion, such as fines for those who put recyclables into regular trash bins?

Though some cities do fine residents who don’t recycle, nothing of the sort is being considered here. But there is another idea that both Republic Services and Giunchigliani seem to agree upon. Bob Coyle, Republic’s area president, and Giunchigliani are talking about rewarding recyclers.

Coyle is against giving people deductions on their trash bills but likes the idea of rewarding neighborhoods with coupons for “10 percent off at Starbucks or something.” The number of coupons would be tied to the tonnage of recyclables collected. Giunchigliani suggested customers being able to donate reward savings to charity.

Will there be recycling out at Coyote Springs, whenever it gets built?

That remains to be seen, but more details are emerging about other aspects of what is to be a 43,000-acre town straddling the Clark-Lincoln county line 55 miles north of Las Vegas along U.S. 93. On Wednesday, commissioners approved a zoning change to expand the new area’s gaming overlay. The zoning change was needed to make way for a 330-room, 12-story resort that plans submitted to the county say would be finished by 2018. Developer Harvey Whittemore previously won approval to build 159,000 homes in Coyote Springs. So far a golf course has been completed, a water system is almost done and 60 percent of a sewage treatment plant is done. Whittemore said he expects the first homes to be built in late 2009 or early 2010.

What else do those plans show about the resort?

Rough estimates are that work associated with it would begin about 2013. An economic analysis completed by Applied Analysis lists construction costs at about $866 million. That would include 713,900 square feet of hotel, casino and amenities, and a 777,000-square-foot parking garage. The casino would employ about 1,800 people.

Coyote Springs is planned to consist of 11 “villages,” with the casino to be constructed after Village 4 is completed. Plans are for Village 4 to be built second, after Village 1.

The county appears confident that another remote development, Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, will never be turned into a nuclear waste dump. Is the county spending a lot of money to keep tabs on Yucca Mountain?

Every year, the Energy Department gives millions to local governments to monitor the federal government’s effort to store the nation’s most radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain. And every year, those governments sign a statement, as Clark County did last week, saying they spent the money appropriately. It can’t be spent, for instance, on lobbying or developing cross-state coalitions or for litigation.

Since 1988, but excluding two years in the mid-1990s when federal funding was cut, the Energy Department has provided 10 county governments with a total of $35.6 million. Clark County’s average annual share is from $1.6 million to $1.8 million, said Irene Navis, nuclear waste planning manager. Nye County receives the lion’s share. Its last payment was about $3 million, Navis said. Other Nevada counties that get payments are Esmeralda, Lincoln, Churchill, Lander, White Pine and Mineral. Inyo, Calif., also gets a cut.

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