COLUMBIA — About 60 residents gathered at the Columbia Public Library on Thursday to discuss concerns about the city’s proposal to replace the current trash bag system with roll carts that could be picked up by automated collection trucks.
Residents said the city is trying to fix a system that is not broken and were most worried that:
- Roll carts could blow down the street after being left outside after trash pickup.
- They could have too much trash to fit inside a cart or multiple carts.
- Roll carts would diminish the aesthetic value of their neighborhoods.
- Roll carts left outside for an extended period could attract burglars by indicating no one is home.
- Roll carts could become unsanitary.
- Sanitation workers could lose their jobs.
In a report released by the Public Works Department in April, the city outlined the details of its proposal. The city would purchase 10 automated trucks and 44,000 roll carts for a total cost of $5,860,000, with plans to implement the change in the 2013 fiscal year.
Sharyl Kewley, resident of the Park de Ville neighborhood, said the proposal would cost workers their jobs.
“I thought this country was trying to create jobs,” Kewley said. “I’d rather stick with the black bags and give somebody a job.”
The city's promise to use natural gas trucks instead of the current diesel models as part of the proposal has not persuaded Old Southwest neighborhood resident Michael Lawler.
"I'm all for clean energy, bring in the natural gas trucks and buses, but leave us our black bags," Lawler said.
Attendees called for the matter to be put to a vote, but Frankie Minor, who lives one block from the Columbia Public Library, said lobbying City Council representatives would be more effective.
Richard Shanker, who said he organized the meeting, attempted to gather signatures for a petition against the city's proposal throughout the meeting.
"We have no other recourse tonight than to address our council people," he said.