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As Long as We Remember...

July 27, 2007

Trash Trauma

Edward Lulie III

Some Frederick City residents are now living in a trash nightmare that comes back twice a week. Why? Well the city has imposed a new scheme for trash collection which has "worked" well elsewhere (or so we are told).

It utilizes new technology and a type of truck that can scoop up receptacles and empty them in record speed. Yet the downside is that it also creates a scenic blight and physical hardship for some, particularly those who live near Baker Park on West Second Street.

The new system creates a visual eyesore twice a week and the odors generated don't help things. If it isn't fixed soon, it may easily be an issue in the next city election as it has motivated residents by hitting them where they live.

The problem comes from the implementation of the change and what might be called unintended consequences. Previously the residents of the beautiful homes lining the park on West 2nd Street - and on nearby Rockwell Terrace - had their trash collected behind their houses in an alley way.

Now, under the city mandate, the new system requires them to set their trash out in front of their house at a designated spot on the street. Residents received a huge single trash container that is specially designed to be scooped up and dumped.

The theory is undoubtedly that collections will be quicker and use less labor. It might also reduce the amount of garbage collected by limiting residents to the volume of a single container (twice a week). The trucks only have one operator who, in ideal conditions, does not have to leave the cab of his truck. While this may save money and time it has also created problems.

Many homes have no easy access from the rear of the house to the street where pick up is done. People had previously made small areas by the alley way (often fenced) where their trash cans would remain until collected. Now they have to move the new large containers twice a week to an exact spot on the street in front of their house where it will sit until collected.

It not only reduces parking, but with one large container set in front of every house it smells and looks, well, trashy. It not only stinks up the street but the view as well and worse it does this at one of the most scenic spots in town, Baker Park.

Some residents are elderly and have a problem manhandling the units out to the street. Plus the new container must be precisely aligned for the scoop to pick it up or it will not be collected at all. Kids have been turning them as they walk past; the result is a load of trash that is ignored by the truck and left behind for an irate resident to discover it the next day.

How much of a problem is this? Well anyone checking out the obituaries the other day might have noticed that even the Frederick News Post's op-ed page has noticed.

Time will tell if the kinks in the new trash scheme are cured. In the meantime, one of the hallmarks of Frederick City, the beautiful houses lining Baker Park, are blighted twice a week by rows of huge trash containers.

While this may save the city money, the price imposed on the quality of life may prove prohibitively expensive; if only to the political careers of the mayor and Board of Aldermen.

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