Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Of False Alarms & The Litter Bug

Wednesday morning, the sound of sirens alerted me to the possibility that something was a-miss in my neighborhood. Firetrucks sped onto my street, and - what do ya know? - parked just a few houses down from my house. Quickly, I pulled on my sneakers, grabbed my camera, and ran out the door...

Fortunately (or unfortunately, if I were a member of the paparazzi), the call turned out to be a false alarm. The call had been for the white house, seen above. By the time I got there, the firemen and police at the scene were already relaxed and chatting. I asked one fireman if it was a false alarm, and he nodded and said "yeah."

* *

Meanwhile, Springfield's saga with overflowing dumpsters continues. I could take photographs of illegal dumping and overflowing trash bins every day and never have a problem seeking out subjects. It is not that the dumpsters are occasionally overfilled and I just happen to get opportunistic photographs. The dumpsters in my 'hood are almost always overflowing just a couple of weeks or so after being emptied. And they stay overflowed for another week or two thereafter. The one pictured below is on Central Street, just up the road from the neighborhood's worst litter offender, the Northern Heights apartments. I could take a picture of this same dumpster each month, and it would look the same each time.

Overflowing dumpsters are a nag of mine because it leads to scenes like the one below. That littered lot is the result of weeks of nearby dumpsters and trash bins being left over-filled, where the loose trash on top just blows around to the neighboring streets and yards. Practically every day I have to police my yard for trash blowing in from neighboring bins and dumpsters - primarily the ones being stuffed over-full in the parking lot of the Northern Heights apartment complex on Central Street.

The dumpsters in Springfield need to be emptied when they are full, not when some arbitrarily set pick-up time comes along. Repeat violators of the city's litter ordinances need to be fined. The dumpster companies or property owners need to be told that their dumpsters must not be filled beyond the brim of their containers - period. And if they are repeatedly overfilled, then fine the company or property owner. And fine them for every housing unit that uses the dumpster. So if an apartment complex has 20 units, we fine the company or owner $500 x 20 = $10,000.

That's what I would do, anyway. But I've been told I'm a meanie when it comes to ordinance violators. Either that or my expectations of city ordinance enforcement - you know, the laws the city wrote, for whatever reason - are just entirely unrealistic, gosh darn it. ("We can't do that..." [sob])

I think if the City took such strong action in these matters, the mass violations would end immediately. We need to send a clear and strong message to trash container providers and/or property owners: If you do business in Springfield, or utilize trash containers or dumpsters on your property, then you will do so responsibly. If the City does not take such action - if we refuse to crack down on repeated trash offenders - then any efforts to reduce the immense litter problem in this city will only have temporary, short-term results. And the massive illegal trash dumping and disregard for littering in our communities will continue.


Springfield's Clean-up Day is slated for Saturday, April 28. I tried a few months back to get involved with the "Keep Springfield Beautiful" group that's organizing trash pickups throughout the city, but their meetings were on weeknights, when I'm working, so I was unable to attend them. Recently, I called to inquire about joining up, but all I got was their voicemail. I left a message, but they haven't got back to me yet. In any event, from reading their website, it looks as if they're looking for groups of people to sign up, as opposed to individuals. Oh well. If anything else, I can just grab a couple of trash bags on my own and walk down my street. They'll fill up quick enough.

I'll send you'all a picture!

UPDATE! I recently received an invite to join up with the "Keep Springfield Beautiful" folks. That's great news! I even get a T-shirt and a free lunch out of deal, too. (I wonder how many homeless people will be helping out?)

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Missing Persons in New England

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