Sheri Wahrgren, the Downtown Revitalization manager for the City of Salem, wants to get rid of most trash receptacles in the downtown area -- 44 of the 61 currently in use. See:
Download Downtown Trash Receptacle Staff Report
Before we dive deeper into this messy move, let's agree on this: the current trash receptacles are ugly, hard to use, and deserve to be featured in The Museum of Dysfunctional Trash Receptacles -- which I dearly hope exists.
Carole Smith, a downtown resident and property owner, brought my attention to what Smith considers a trash travesty. Never one to mince words, here's how she described this issue to me in an email.
I was looking through the DAB [Downtown Advisory Board] agenda and found a staff report that they want to remove 44 of our 61 downtown garbage cans to save money. More trash on the sidewalk will not save downtown money, it will just make it look worse. No word on other cost savings they can make - like letting staff go. We don’t need all those garbage cans but WE DO need all those staff.
If restaurants customers are the main trash can users, why don’t they increase Parking Tax on restaurants with take out? This just seems like another bone they are throwing to restaurants.
Janet Taylor hated that merchants refused to maintain the city’s plants in the city’s planters so she had the City give away all our planters (planted and blooming) to Keizer. She replaced them with the most hideous garbage cans and planters she could find. She took away over 80 planters and replaced them with 20 planters.
Now staff wants to do the same with garbage cans. Why should downtown be punished because Janet Taylor picked a dumb, dysfunctional design?
Ugh, this just feels like another nail in downtowns mostly-built coffin. One more nail amongst several. Staff still get their paychecks but what about services for the public who pay their wages, don’t we count? Why do we need so many staff when they continually cut programs?
To add insult to injury, I told Chuck Bennett years ago that most cities negotiate free downtown garbage pick-up with their haulers when they renew their contract. They get their downtown garbage picked up free. Our city just charges the Parking District.
Hope this riles you up like it did me.
Well, I'm always eager to get riled up by stupid stuff done by the City of Salem. I wouldn't have called this blog Salem Political Snark if I'd wanted it to be a warm and fuzzy paean to what city staff are doing right.
I agree with Smith that removing almost 3/4 of downtown trash receptacles doesn't mesh with what I've observed about human behavior. Namely, that most people want to do the right thing, but only if it isn't too difficult.
Having several trash receptacles on every block makes it more likely that someone with something that needs to be thrown away will hang onto it for the short distance to a receptacle. This is the current downtown Salem trash receptacle status, as shown in the staff report.
By contrast, this is the proposed layout.
The map above seems trash receptacle-skimpy, but since this is my first foray into trash receptacle analysis of a downtown, I will admit that my intuitive impression of skimpiness may not reflect the intensive quantitative and qualitative assessment that a problem of this importance deserves.
I have, however, just devoted five minutes of my steadily declining remaining life time to a Google Images search of "downtown trash receptacles" in hopes this will bolster my campaign for an investigative blogging award.
That search led to me a Buyer's Guide for Trash Receptacles which contains this bit of advice that Sheri Wahrgren obviously hasn't taken to heart.
Bottom line: the more trash receptacles you provide, the less trash you will encounter.
Wow. That makes so much sense. As does the following pieces of advice.
Planning trash collection might not be your favorite topic, but proper organization can make your community clean and safe, leaving a positive first impression on guests. Facilitate successful trash collection with: - Placing the right amount of commercial trash receptacles strategically - Installing eye-catching, colorful decorative trash cans that guests can easily find - Encouraging green habits with recycling receptacles that sort recyclable materials
Eye-catching. Colorful. Decorative. Three words that definitely don't describe the trash receptacles currently in downtown. But it does describe the trash receptacles in Washington D.C.'s Chinatown.
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