OC Weighing $296K Purchase For 2nd Beach Trash Truck

Several of the 800 trash cans placed on the beach in Ocean City are pictured last summer. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY — After a highly successful first year for what was called a “game changer” for Ocean City’s beach trash collection, resort decision makers were briefed on the potential purchase of a second state-of-the-art collection truck.

Last year, the Mayor and Council approved the purchase of a new beach trash collection truck that could single-handedly pick up and empty the roughly 800 blue trash barrels on the beach and transport the contents directly to the public works solid waste facility at 65th Street. The cost of the initial trash collector truck was just under $300,000, a price deemed well worth it for its efficiency in cleaning the beach each night and restoring it to its pristine condition each morning for the legions of beachgoers.

The intent of the new vehicle was to phase out the use of three Broyhill beach trash trucks that emptied the iconic blue trash cans in phases from one end of the resort to the other and deliver the contents to various dumpsters strategically located throughout the town, some of which are in otherwise quiet residential areas. The new trash collection truck was deployed last year as part of a pilot program in conjunction with the old Broyhill machines and it was deemed highly successful, according to Public Works Director Hal Adkins.

“Just to remind you of what we did in the past, we had three of the Broyhill machines, two of which were in operation on any given night and one of which was used as a backup,” he said on Tuesday. “We still have two of the old Broyhill machines and the plan was to hold onto them until it was determined if the new vehicle was successful. It was highly successful.”

To that end, Adkins and Procurement Manager Catrice Parsons on Tuesday presented a proposal to purchase a second trash collection truck at a price of just under $300,000. While just one of the new trucks is needed to empty the 800-plus blue barrels each night, the purchase of a second one would eliminate the need for the remaining two Broyhill trucks, on which the town would need to invest around $60,000 on each to make them serviceable for the 2018 summer season as they are nearing the end of their useful life. In addition, rotating the two new beach trash collection trucks would save on wear-and-tear and extend their useful lives for as many as 20 years, according to Adkins.

Adkins explained under the Broyhill trash collection system, the two operating vehicles would empty the trash cans on the beach and deposit the contents at one of as many as 20 dumpsters located in various locations throughout the town. The operation requires the Broyhill trucks to leave the beach and empty their contents at the various dumpsters in the middle of the night or early morning hours, many of which are located in quiet residential areas.

“They offload the contents in the middle of the night,” he said. “The goal of this was to do away with the noise pollution and doing away with all of the other pollution associated with locating these dumpsters throughout town.”

Mayor Rick Meehan said he was familiar with the trash dump-off locations throughout town and had received complaints about them from residents over the years.

“I’m aware of some of those sites where you place the dumpsters,” he said. “In many cases, they are located in areas undesirable for this type of operation.”

By contrast, the new, larger trash collection truck allows a single operator to empty the 800 barrels with the vehicle’s grabber arms and deposit the contents into an onboard compactor before eventually being taken to the solid waste facility at 65th Street, eliminating the need for the dumpsters strategically placed throughout town. There is also some potential payroll savings with the new trash trucks.

“This is a one-man operation,” said Adkins. “One individual operating these new trucks can do the job. It cuts down on staffing by half. The operator delivers the trash directly to the transfer station at 65th Street.”

In addition, the new trash truck, and the potential second one proposed for purchase on Tuesday, have the capability of emptying the relatively new 300-gallon trash cans fitted with lids that have been utilized as part of a pilot program in some areas. The 300-gallon cans naturally have a larger capacity and expanding the use of them could lead to the elimination of some of the iconic blue barrels.

With 800-plus blue barrels up and down the beach from the Inlet to the Delaware line during the summer, that’s nearly six blue trash barrels per block, although many are concentrated in the wider, more populated beaches in the south end of town closer to the Boardwalk.

Nonetheless, Adkins said expanding the operation of the new trash collector truck would allow his department to eliminate many of the blue cans and replace them with the larger 300-gallon cans. Councilman Wayne Hartman pointed out the blue barrels have a tendency to get blown over during storms and their contents are often deposited on the beach. He also pointed out the blue barrels, when blown over, have a tendency to end up in the ocean during sudden, severe storms. He further pointed out lids on the 300-gallon cans prevented seagulls from attacking the contents and causing more pollution. Adkins agreed and said the new operation could lead to more 300-gallon cans.

“We can definitely envision more 300-gallon bins,” he said. “They have been highly successful on a limited basis. They’re just more practical and aesthetically appealing.”

The second state-of-the-art trash collection truck comes with a price tag of around $296,000, which compares with the price of the first truck purchased last year. Without purchasing the second truck, roughly $120,000 would have to be invested in the old Broyhill trucks to have them serviceable for the 2018 season. Two new Broyhill trucks would cost an estimated $160,000 each, or around $320,000. Budget Manager Jenny Knapp explained the proposed $296,000 expenditure on the new trash truck was not included as a line item in the fiscal year 2018 budget and the money would have to come from the general fund balance.

After considerable debate, the council agreed unanimously to defer a decision on the new beach trash collector truck until Monday’s regular session.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.