1) Why was the Compost Park Closed?
The Manheim Township Commissioners reluctantly decided to close the Compost Park at the end of the business day on Saturday, April 11, 2020, until further notice. The main reason for closing the park was due to the amount of material that we anticipated receiving after outside agencies began to advertise our park was open and free to all county residents. There was a substantial increase in material during the last week of operation.
We are currently at capacity for what we can store and compost on the site. This includes the leaf rows and raw material we grind for wood mulch. We use an outside contractor to grind and remove approximately 95% of the raw yard waste received at the site. During 2018, this amount was 4,718 tons. This service is provided free of charge by this contractor. Without this service the Compost Park would not be able to operate without tax dollar subsidies or fee increases.
Our disposal contractor tells us he will return in approximately two (2) weeks to grind the pile we currently have. We have no guarantee that he will continue to accept our raw material beyond that grinding. His business is also affected by this set of circumstances.
2) When will the Compost Park reopen?
This will be based upon our ability to have raw material removed from the park. Before the park is reopened, we will need to also ensure we are able to continue the practice of safe distancing and the prevention of possible cross-contamination at the Compost Park to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). These measures will not only help protect those using the facility, but also many Compost Park staff members who have a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
3) What should Manheim Township residents do with yard waste while the Compost Park is closed?
We understand Martin Mulch is still accepting raw material for a fee at their site, 55 Woodcrest Drive, Ephrata, 717-733-1602. We do not know of any other sites accepting raw material currently. Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, which does allow all county residents to use their facility, has also closed temporarily.
Another solution is to begin your own backyard composting. Organic materials will compost by themselves, but a little care and attention will make the process neater and quicker. You can buy a compost bin, make your own, or do it in an open pile. Just mix brown and green organic materials, keep it moist and aerated, and mix it up occasionally. A well-tended pile made of chopped materials can be finished in 2 to 4 weeks, while brown leaves left on their own may take a year. The resulting compost provides valuable organic material and fertilizer when used as a mulch or soil amendment. Here is a Guide to Backyard Composting.
Use a mulching mower blade. Mulching is great for your lawn for several reasons. Whether you are mulching leaves or returning lawn clippings back into the lawn, mulching saves time, money, labor, and is a great soil amendment. There is really no need for raking, bagging or hauling away either leaves or clippings. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has more information on the benefits and methods of composting and mulching.
Note: The outdoor burning of refuse (trash), leaves and trimmings is prohibited in Manheim Township per Administrative Order #2017-1.
4) Why is the Compost Park not limited to only Manheim Township residents/taxpayers?
We are in the process of researching the question of whether the Township can restrict the use of the Park to township residents/taxpayers only. Development of the park was originally funded by grant monies from DEP. We are researching if our agreement with DEP requires us to service all county residents due to the funding. We should have an answer soon. However, like a lot of us, DEP is working with a limited staff and from home when possible, so researching this question will take a little time.
5) Why is the Compost Park open for commercial users?
The Compost Park was closed to commercial users at the end of 2018. We are no longer allowing lawn care services, landscapers, property management companies, etc. to use our site.