Trash In The Park, Street Sweeping, Cigarette Slobs – Who Do we Blame?
By William Legault
This seems to be one of the great questions of the day. Our downtown overall is about as clean on a daily basis as it it has ever been. The same cannot be said of the entrance corridors and the outlying neighborhoods. Some of the parks seem to well kept, while others seem to be forgotten except for efforts by active neighborhood groups.
There is a responsibility on the part of municipal government, and in some regards that responsibility has been taken to heart. Street sweeping has gotten better recently. The addition of a city owned street sweeper has helped with that. The tagging and towing of cars that whose owners have ignored posted sweeping zones has also been helpful.
The recent purchase of a small rear-loaded trash hauler/compacting truck has also gone a long way towards improving the situation in the downtown and in the parks. Less trips back and forth to the city yard to empty a dump truck full of bags means more trash can be picked up in less time.
One of the better concepts introduced in Salem recently is the “Park Your Butts Here!” program. This program introduced sleek stainless steel receptacles that were located at various key spots where smokers are known to gather. Right outside of popular waiting hole and coffee shops are good spots. The intent is for smokers to place their butts into the receptacles for the city to pick up. The butts are then taken to a central collection point for eventual transportation to a recycling business. This is supposed to produce a small amount of revenue.
Like many other good ideas, it has so far only been good in concept. In actual execution it has been an abject failure. Due to staffing issues, the receptacles are not emptied often enough, leading to overflowing and nasty looking messes located outside of popular businesses. Combine that with the street population figuring out how easy they are to open to recover tobacco dregs for rolling “snipes” and the scene becomes filthier. Some businesses have removed these receptacles on their own because they just made a bad situation worse.
The final indignation for this program has been the discovery that for the most part, the city is just throwing the butts away and not recycling them at all. Where is the profit in that? Why do we bother?
The official word is that new larger and better secured receptacles are on the way. There will also be a more concerted effort to empty them to include help from the recycling committee.
There is also responsibility for the people who live and do business here. We also need to do our part to help in keeping the city looking good.
If you go to a public park for a picnic, or for a family party you should make arrangements to take out whatever trash you generate. Filling a barrel at Forest River Park with your trash, and leaving bags of trash on the ground besides the barrel is not being responsible. It is lazy, ignorant, and shows a general disregard for others. I can only assume that whoever left the sloppy mess featured in the photo on the right also complains about the tax rate After all, those who create a mess and leave it for others to clean up probably don’t expect to have to pay for it.
Are you a smoker? What do you do with a cigarette when you are finished with the silly thing? Are you one of the many that just throws it into the street? The city is not your ashtray and it is not realistic to expect that the city will provide a receptacle every five walking steps for you.
Throwing your butt onto the ground, no matter the circumstances just defines you as a slob with no regard for anybody else.
In reality the responsibility lies with all of us. Me, you, business owners, business customers, and city government. We should all do our part every day.