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Wednesday, July 18, 2007 01:26 pm

“Mind-boggling”

The public weighs in on trash — and demands change

Untitled Document Aldermen were mostly silent Monday as landlords, presidents of neighborhood associations, and concerned residents took the podium to offer solutions to Springfield’s garbage problem during the city’s second of two waste-subcommittee hearings. The new panel, chaired by Ward 6 Ald. Mark Mahoney, first met in June to discuss the trash issue and heard from several Springfield officials and area waste haulers. This week’s meeting gave the floor to the people.
Owen Anderson, president of the Springfield Area Landlord Association, first suggested that the city bid Springfield’s entire waste removal to one waste hauler. Anderson said while this move would ensure lower costs to citizens, save wear and tear on streets, and cut fuel expenditures, he didn’t see it a feasible option for Springfield. “Unfortunately, this idea seems to be politically impossible and has delayed action on implementing a comprehensive garbage pickup plan for almost six years,” Anderson said.
Anderson said a better possibility may be to retain the current system using several private waste haulers, but place the billing on a centralized billing system — such as the City Water, Light and Power invoices — to ensure full compliance. Steve Combs, president of the Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association, told the panel that the entire situation was “mind-boggling” and that the city should be responsible for picking up garbage. “I was a bit concerned at the last meeting that I heard so much about the haulers,” said Combs. “They should not be the No. 1 priority here — the No. 1 priority should be the citizens of Springfield.”
Polly Poskin of the Harvard Park Neighborhood Association called on the city to require full compliance with residential garbage pick-up, even if it means bidding the service to one or two waste haulers. She offered other solutions such as eliminating yard waste stickers and designating scheduled days for limb pick-up and allowing for the routine removal of bulky items at least once a month.
Like Anderson and Combs, Poskin touched on the politics of the trash issue and suggested that the city move efforts along by tackling a few major items. “I think we have to prioritize,” said Poskin, “because I know that garbage pick-up is such a political issue that the city doesn’t seem to quite know how to get its arms around, and if we could get a handle on yard waste pick-up and bulky item removal it would go a long way.”
After hearing residents’ comments and suggestions Monday, Mahoney said the waste subcommittee will take the next few weeks to consider statements from each of the trash hearings and will begin to look at possible solutions.

Contact Amanda Robert at arobert@illinoistimes.com.
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