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Committee mulls fix for illegal dumping

by Eplunus Colvin | May 7, 2021 at 2:43 a.m.
Illegal dumping found on West Short Reeker in Pine Bluff. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Eplunus Colvin)

Illegal dumping of trash, furniture and appliances is getting out of hand in the city of Pine Bluff and council members are brainstorming solutions to deal with the problem.

During the Public Health and Welfare Committee meeting Thursday, chairman Steven Shaner said a discussion had been had with councilmember Ivan Whitfield and committee member Lloyd Holcomb Jr. to place two dumpsters in each ward and have a monthly collection site at Hestand Stadium.

"We have two council members per ward and we would rotate those dumpsters in those wards," said Holcomb, who added that the city would have to pay for the second dumpster due to the agreement already in place with Waste Management.

Holcomb said this would be a six-month process and that he felt two dumpsters were necessary due to the size of each ward. Whitfield suggested that each council member scout their area for a secure and gated location where the dumpster could be placed to prevent late-night dumping and site use by contractors.

Illegal dumping was an issue that was discussed with Waste Management when the city was negotiating the contract, said Louise Sullivan, assistant to the mayor.

"Keep in mind the additional cost because we did not come up with an agreement with Waste Management to put two dumpsters per ward," she said . "We got an agreement with them that we would have four citywide cleanups and we would have dumpsters placed at the appropriate location for those cleanups."

Even if the dumpsters are secured behind a gate, Sullivan said people would dump outside the fence. She is also concerned about contamination with the dumping of chemicals.

"If there is anything in that dumpster that is considered contamination by Waste Management, they will not empty that dumpster," she said. "Right now, they do have cameras on their trucks where they can actually look inside the dumpster before they load it into their trucks."

Councilmember Joni Alexander suggested Hestand Stadium be the sole dumping site to cut down on trying to monitor eight different locations throughout the city.

"All council members get phone calls from every ward and it would be easier for me if someone from the second ward or third ward called me, instead of trying to tell them where the dumpster is in their ward, that we can just direct everyone to one location that's gated," said Alexander, who noted that people who dump don't necessarily live in the ward that they dump in.

As far as the additional cost for the city for a second dumpster, Alexander said she thought it would be OK to put out a little extra money.

"We're spending more constantly sending the Street Department out to pick up all of this trash," she said. "We have to do something because our citizens, they're not driving out to that dumpsite. It's not happening."

Whitfield agreed and suggested the Street Department could assign personnel to monitor the Hestand location during business hours and surveillance cameras would capture the acts of those who dump unlawfully afterhours.

The first Friday and Saturday of each month are the projected days the Hestand dumping site would be open. If the right person is found to work, he said additional operational days throughout the week could be added.

Whitfield said he has been in touch with Rick Rhoden with the Street Department and made him aware of the possible solutions. He has also touched base with Hestand Stadium chair Dale Dixon, who is on board to partner, with the city to help clean it up.

The committee is in the early stages of planning and will spend the next few days ironing out details to see what their best options are while considering personnel, location, and cost details.

"I don't think Waste Management is going to charge us an extraordinary amount so any amount that they charge us is worthy of our citizens to be able to have a local dumpsite for the next six months to see how it works," Whitfield said. "The better availability that citizens have, the better chance we'll have to help curb and decrease illegal dumping."

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