After a series of meetings this week, City officials have abandoned the anticipated North End pilot program for a “morning-only” trash disposal window of 6:00 am – 9:00 am. The program would have encouraged residents to put out there household garbage in the morning rather than the night before. The concept was the latest in a series of ideas to reduce street trash and the rat problem in the neighborhood.
Despite efforts by District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina, Public Works and other officials, the sticking point was the City’s existing contract with its vendor, Capitol, as well as existing union rules. Changing those two items would be too expensive, according to city representatives. The contractor claims that traffic after 7:00 am becomes too congested for efficient pickups. Changing the start time to 9:00 am would require a re-negotiated (i.e., more expensive) contract. The City’s budget crisis is unlikely to allow for additional spending on trash pick-ups.
Currently, household trash can be put out at 5:00 pm the night before pick-up, until 7:00 am in the morning. Capitol’s trucks start their runs at 7:00 am. Pickups are made 3 times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. This results in 42 hours per week with trash on the streets. Councilor LaMattina pursued the “morning-only” idea with neighborhood leaders after a recent City Council hearing on the rodent and trash problem. Rats come out when they smell the garbage and these lengthy periods of trash on the streets is worsening the rodent problem.
In 2008, the City proposed restricting household trash placement from midnight to 7:00 am, instead of the current 5:00 pm – 7:00 am window. A similar voluntary program is currently in effect in Beacon Hill. However, there was strong public opposition in the North End from those that would have trouble meeting a 7:00 am deadline. That is why a later 9:00 am pickup time was proposed for the new program. The Councilor recently visited NEWRA’s Clean Streets Committee and the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council. Both organizations have voiced support the pilot program.
Restaurant trash is not picked up by the City’s contractor, but rather arranged with private haulers. Restaurants generally put out their trash after closing. The Councillor’s office would ideally like businesses to use more barrels and increase recycling as part of the City’s “go green” efforts. Residents and businesses have complained that recycling pickups have been unreliable in the past.
At this week’s Clean Streets meeting, residents noted blatant non-compliance with existing ordinances, including those that put out their trash well before 5:00 pm. Violations have been consistently identified in the papers and websites (see Blogger Follows the North End Trash Trail). Depending on enforcement, there may be some improvement when the Green Ticket Bill goes into effect this May. Neighborhood residents and merchants have recently emphasized the situation is dire creating not just a cosmetic problem, but a public safety concern regarding the spread of disease.