The site on Frances Jones Boulevard is the island’s only public waste collection center, but it is unmanned and unsecured.
Island and Beaufort County officials agree that the site, which only accepts residential trash and sits next to planned community park, all but invites illegal commercial dumping and vermin infestation.
“Basically, we just have dumpsters and people can just put things in there unsorted and supervised,” Daufuskie Island council member Darnell Brawner, who is spearheading solid waste issues for the board, said Friday.
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Interim Beaufort County administrator Josh Gruber agreed, saying, “There’s some dumpsters, and that’s about it.”
“When you have an unmanned series of dumpsters, controlling what gets dumped there is difficult,” he said.
Island council vice chairman Steve Hill was blunt in his assessment of the site, calling it “kind of a a running sore.”
“Anyone who sees it is usually shocked,” he said.
Early in the decade, the county had plans to build a permanent convenience center with trash compactors, but nearby property owners sued, arguing the proper studies hadn’t been completed.
As it snaked its way through the courts, the suit — ultimately won by the county — halted design and planning work on the center, and funding was diverted to other projects, Gruber said.
In the years that followed, Daufuskie leaders have adopted what they call “one island solution,” which involves construction of a new convenience center with compactors and recycling capabilities at a different location perhaps in the Haig Point or Melrose areas.
That facility would serve not only residents in the historic district but also those who live in one of the island’s gated communities.
But finding a new site has proved difficult, Hill said.
Gruber echoed that sentiment, saying, “It’s not an easy task because not very many people want to raise their hand and say they want (a trash facility) in their backyard.”
Funding for the project has also been elusive. A county-wide penny sales tax referendum that would have raised $1.8 million for the convenience center was shot down by voters last year.
While island and council leaders move slowly toward that ultimate goal of new facility, Brawner said there are some smaller, short-term steps that can be taken to lessen the negative impacts of the existing trash site.
Within in the next couple of weeks, Brawner said he plans to submit a proposal to the county that would include requests to hire someone to man the site, secure the area to cut down on illegal dumping, and make the dumpsters less of an eyesore by adding landscaping elements.
“I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request,” he said. “ ... I want something we can get done this year, not three years from now.”