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Razor Wire of Arcata Resource Recovery Center

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Razor Wire of Arcata Resource Recovery Center

Business is picking up at the newly opened Arcata Resource Recovery Center (ARRC). Word has gotten around that Arcatans no longer need drive to Eureka or McKinleyville to dump their recyclables, and a steady stream of cars are pulling up to the waiting dumpsters full of newspaper, bottles, cans, scrap metal and other materials.

ERRR’s first misstep, at least in terms of public relations, was ringing its sprawling yard at 10th and N streets with concertina wire. While already encircled by a fence topped with barbed wire, the extra layer of coiled razor wire gives the place a prison campish look, prompting complaints from neighboring businesses and residents.

“I don’t want to be a bad neighbor but it sure doesn’t look like any vision of the ‘Creamery District’ we have talked about so far,” said one neighbor, alluding to ongoing efforts to upgrade the appearance of the area around the Old Creamery.

Regardless of the wire’s effectiveness or its visual shortcomings, it’s probably not legal. Arcata’s Land Use Code section 9.030.30 prohibits use of “razor or concertina wire with a fence or wall.”

Chuck Schager, recycling and resource manager, said he is working with the City to resolve the situation. But he stressed the need to protect the enterprise from depredation. “Obviously, we have things of value, and people are going to go in and take it,” he said.

His preferred outcome is installation of extensive landscaping to hide the wire. That would be quite an undertaking, as the wire-topped fence extends two blocks down N Street past the central Old Creamery area, but Schager says a green screen will work in Arcata as well as it has for the company’s Fortuna’s location.

“We try to work with all the cities and we will do the same for Arcata,” Schager said. Still, he noted that the lunar-like surface of N Street doesn’t set a very high aesthetic standard. “I don’t see where the barbed wire is any worse than the potholes,” he said. “You’ve already got visual problems.”