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Recycling buy-back center is opposed

Sulphur Springs residents say they're all for recycling, but a plan to locate a buy-back center on their community's main street has them worried. "We're all for the recycling aspect of it," said Linda Hope, president of the Sulphur Springs Action League. "But we're concerned about the intrusion of this commercial use into our neighborhood."

The city plans to build buy-back centers as part of its efforts to increase recycling to the state-mandated level by 1994. Residents bring glass, aluminum and newspapers to buy-back centers and are paid cash on site. Glass and aluminum are crushed at the centers and all recyclable goods are taken away by truck.

The first such center in Tampa, to be operated in conjunction with the Tampa Housing Authority at Rome Avenue and Main Street, will be considered by the Tampa City Council today and is expected to be operating by next spring.

Such centers are more cost-effective than curbside recycling and are geared toward less-affluent communities to give a financial incentive to recycle, said Everett Bass, director of the Solid Waste Department.

But other plans still on the drawing board have met with a less friendly reception. Officials hope to build a shed-type building on a city-owned lot next to the Salvation Army facility at Nebraska Avenue and Bird Street and then lease the buy-back center to the Salvation Army to operate.

But members of the Action League, a vocal group working to rid the neighborhood of drugs and dilapidated housing, say the center will contribute unwanted truck traffic and noise. They also are concerned it would back up along Ninth Street, where the city plans to build attractive, low-cost bungalow homes as part of a pilot housing project.

"These are supposed to be nice homes," Hope said. "But nobody in their right mind is going to buy them with a buy-back center in their back yard."

Solid Waste officials insist the center won't be an intrusion on busy Nebraska Avenue. A wall will block the building from homes, and any noise-making activities would take place during normal business hours.

"What we would be putting up there would look nicer than it does now," Bass said.

Even a trip to a Lakeland buy-back center with Bass left Action League members unconvinced, Hope said.

"The first thing I noticed was ground glass all over the asphalt," she said. "Then there's a can crusher machine that sounds like about 15 cats hanging from their tails."

Bass said he is confident something can be salvaged. Another meeting between Solid Waste officials and residents will be scheduled in the next few weeks.

"If they really don't want it, we're not going to force it down their throats," said Barbara Kropf, who heads the city's recycling programs. "But we think we can be a good neighbor."