Last week I noticed 6 small piles of garbage within two blocks of my house. This week the same 6 piles were still there but now 6 more had joined them.
I called the Bulky Waste phone number in the phone book and asked about the new rules for pick up and was referred to the public works phone number at city hall. When I told public works about the 12 piles of garbage, they asked “what streets are those piles of garbage on?” and in response to me they replied that “no one on those two streets has called for a pick up.” If they had called for pick up they would have been told that free bulky waste pick up has been suspended due to budget cuts and that now the residents of the central area of town, who used to get regular free bulky waste pickups, have to pre-pay $75 to public works before bulky waste will be picked up. However, that $75 buys up to three truckloads of bulky waste disposal.
Now what to do about those small piles of refuse? Most of the piles of garbage on my walk would not be worth paying $75 for a pick up. If we as neighbors complain to public works, public works will contact the Health Department and they will send someone out to give the offenders a warning and a period of time to get the garbage removed. If the home owner or the renter does not remove the garbage, public works will send someone out to take away their garbage cans.
Clearly this is a problem. If the amount of garbage left on the street can double in one week, we have an image problem if not a health problem. The nice woman who answered my questions at public works said “well, it is a learning curve.” I’m pretty sure that some of the piles of garbage were left by people without means to dispose of the items…no car at all or they have a car too small to carry a mattress to the dump. The broken table just does not fit in the garbage can and for some of my neighbors $75 is well beyond what they can afford. Calling the health department can only make the matter worse. Furniture left out in the rain over the last couple of weeks would be a health problem if brought back into the house. Leaving it on the street, means their garbage cans will soon disappear and now they would have a real health problem of garbage building up in or around the residence.
I realize that the decision to suspend bulky waste pick up may have seemed like a fiscally prudent one – but as Izzy Greenberg said at the council meeting recently, it will cause our central downtown area to look like a dump in a short period of time. I did walk around my neighborhood this morning and the blocks nearest the Wesleyan Campus had no piles of garbage. None on Church Street? None on High Street? None on Lawn Avenue? Is Wesleyan making arrangements for pick up on these streets? I did notice a few small piles of garbage on these streets a week or so ago. The Wesleyan Freshmen arrived this week with their parents and the image they have of Middletown might be marred if they went through any of the neighborhoods adjoining campus with piles of garbage. I walked a little farther from campus this morning and saw 3 mores piles of garbage on Hotchkiss Street had been added since this weekend.
Is there a way to get what is out on the curb now in the Village District and in the North End cleaned up? At the very least notices need to be sent out to all Middletown residents telling us what the new bulky waste policy is to prevent these eyesores from appearing.
In the best of all worlds a compromise of picking up the first week of every month or even quarterly might help out the many residents who cannot make their own deliveries to the dump. Also, a smaller fee of $25 for the pick-up of one item might solve a lot of these problems.