A long-time dream of a cleaner and greener East Aldine has become a reality with the official opening of the management district’s public Neighborhood Depository & Recycling Center at 2789 Hopper Road.

“This is truly a dream come true, a vision come to fruition, and an answered prayer for many in our community. Life in unincorporated Harris County is all about (achieving) resilience,” said Selina Valdez of SMC Landscape, director of the center and recycling coordinator.

The center is a pioneering project of the management district, which has contracted with SMC to provide a place for residents of East Aldine to dispose of junk, tree waste and recyclable materials at no charge.

“We are the first management district in the state of Texas that runs a recycling center, and that’s a lot to be proud of,” said Richard Cantu, district executive director.

Cantu noted that the idea of a depository/recycling center first came up more than a decade ago. Without one, he said, residents have had to “fend for themselves” by hauling their heavy trash and similar items to private landfills or paying companies to pick it up.

The recycling center, which began accepting household recycling items and tires in late March, has already served more than 140 households and collected more than five tons of heavy trash and more than 140 tires.

Unlike city residents, many people who live in unincorporated areas do not have access to services such as garbage pickup. In Harris County alone, more than 2 million people who live outside the city limits of Houston and other area municipalities.

For the 70,000 residents of East Aldine, the recycling center is also aimed at clearing neighborhoods and green spaces of illegal waste dumping that often ranges from unwanted, used furniture and mattresses to old tires.

While the East Aldine Management District contracts with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for a special team of deputies who serve as a “nuisance abatement team,” the 20-square mile community includes many wide open spaces that violators use for illegal dumping.

The center, located on land owned by the Sunbelt Fresh Water Supply District near the Halls Bayou walking trail, will be open to residents by appointment. Residents may use the center twice a month.

Management District Chairman Carlos Silva and others noted that the recycling center is the result of more than 10 years of planning, including efforts by the late board chairman Gerald Overturff.

“This is truly one of those collaborative efforts,” Silva said. “It took a decade of work, of energy, of research.”

Silva emphasized the need for residents to spread the word about the new center.

“If they’re not given an option, then folks will make a bad choice,” Silva said. “With this facility, we’re providing an opportunity for people to make the right choice.

“Here is a place that you can come during the middle of the day, (while)  the sun is shining, to come legally dump your wares as opposed to waiting till 11 o’clock at night finding the back road and then just quick, quick,” Silva joked.

The center is not for the use of contractors or other businesses.

The center is open 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Wednesdays through Sunday. To make an appointment, East Aldine residents should call 713-454-7185.

The recycling center does not accept household garbage; hazardous waste such as chemicals, paint or oil; electronics or appliances. No waste is accepted from contractors or businesses.

Click here for more details.

— by Anne Marie Kilday