Metro Councilman Matt Watson has found an environmental services firm willing to take over operations of a tire shredder for the city-parish at virtually no cost.
The deal has yet to be finalized because attorneys for the state and city are reviewing it. But Watson says the company is willing to operate the shredder in return for being allowed to keep the shredded material, which it can then sell to a company that will recycle it.
Watson brokered the deal after the parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control District decided it no longer wanted to operate the shredder program—a decision that came months after the state health department secured a $660,000 federal grant for the shredder to help eliminate abandoned tires that serve as breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Watson declines to identify the company until the agreement is finalized, but says plans call for operating the machine on unused MARC property near the airport.
The MARC board of directors changed its mind about operating the shredder earlier this summer, after its executive director, Todd Walker, resigned under pressure from the Metro Council. Council members had been concerned about excessive spending by the agency, which had originally planned to build a pricey new facility to house the equipment.
“Under this plan, all we’ll have to do is pour a slab and put a roof over it,” he says. “The costs will be minimal.”
Separate from MARC, Watson has been campaigning to bring a tire shredder to north Baton Rouge because he believes it will help reduce the many abandoned tires that contribute to blight.
The Metro Council will have to approve any deal before it can be finalized with a private company.