Government Health & Environment

Neighborhood Council Hammers Public Works on North End Trash Problems [Video]

Members of the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) expressed strong disappointment with the trash situation in the North End to city officials.

Frank O’Brien, Public Works Department, reviewed the recent North End Trash Survey results that confirmed residents desire to keep 3 days of weekly trash pickup. Although the survey reflected a rising trend toward more recycling, council members clearly indicated that additional recycling pickup day cannot come at the expense of a regular trash pickup day (3 + 1 versus 2 + 2).

The most contested point between city officials and neighborhood council members was the time that the city should start picking up trash (24:30 in video). The pickup start time largely determines when residents can put there trash out on the streets. Currently, residents can place trash out at 5:00 pm on the day before pickup and the city’s contractor starts its rounds at 7:00 am the following morning.

Council member, Toni Gilardi, strongly reiterated the demand of many North Enders to have a 9:00 am pickup, instead of the current 7:00 am. A later pickup time would allow residents to put out there trash on the morning of the pickup rather than the day before. This would dramatically reduce the amount of time that trash is on the streets and have the additional benefit of less rodent and trashpicker problems.

“It’s all about the money,” said O’Brien. The current contract with Capitol does not allow for a later pickup start time after 7:00 am. A change order would “force the city to pay through the nose.” The current contract expires in June 2014 and the city will soon be sending out a request for bids on a new contract. NEWNC strongly requested the city require the new contract to allow for a 9:00 am pickup start time. O’Brien said the issue, as always, is with the city trash collection budget. A later pickup start time could cost up to double given a dwindling list of bidders willing to take on the city’s contract, according to Public Works.

Council members brought up the high property taxes in the North End and the sub-par level of trash pickup service. “It is not that we pay taxes and should have those services, it is that we pay taxes FOR those services,” emphasized council member Jorge Mendoza who was clearly unsatisfied with the city’s trash collection efforts. Residents complained about the contractor leaving trash strewn in the streets after pickup that then requires the city to follow up with either hand or mechanical street cleaning.

The prospect of more workers walking the streets to pickup trash between cars along the curb was quickly shot down by Public Works as too expensive. A private supplemental program was discussed including the possibility of a North End Neighborhood Improvement District similar that in Downtown Crossing and New York City districts. However, such a program would not be an official Business Improvement District funded solely by businesses and property owners.

Some residents made the case to have more recycling pickup days (40:00 in video). One woman said that many people buy things on the weekend and don’t want to store the boxes until Friday, the recycling pickup day. O’Brien said that city research indicates as much as 75% of typical household trash is recyclable.

View the video for much more on these trash issues, including street barrels and comments by Councilor Sal LaMattina (56:00 in video) who attended the meeting held on February 25, 2013.

More information will be posted separately on newly added streets for regular street cleaning starting March 2013.