<BR>City nixes fall cleanup

PRESCOTT – Junk could pile up this winter in the homes of Prescott residents who depend on the biannual curbside cleanups the city has conducted for the past decade.

Because of a budgeting decision, Prescott will not have a citywide fall cleanup this year. Residents will have to wait until spring for the next curbside collection of their large discarded items.

But city officials say garbage customers still have alternatives for getting rid of large garbage items this fall; it will just take a little more effort on the part of the residents.

For years, the regular curbside cleanups have allowed city garbage customers to discard things that do not fit in the garbage carts the city provides to its customers. Each spring and fall, city crews have made separate rounds to pick up the items that residents leave at their curbs.

The cleanups have proven popular. Residents regularly take full advantage by discarding furniture, appliances and yard trimmings.

But last spring, city officials told the Prescott City Council that the twice-a-year cleanups were over-taxing the city employees who regularly make the extra rounds to pick up the discarded items. The city's Environmental Services Department recommended that the city contract with an outside firm to do the cleanups.

That led to higher costs, however. The city got only one bid for the spring cleanup – from Kuhles Services, for about $66,000.

Because of the higher costs, the Prescott City Council decided during its recent budget discussions to reduce the number of cleanups to just one. That cleanup will occur in the spring of 2001.

But that has left some Prescott residents holding items they hoped to discard in the fall. Prescott resident Jim Stoltz, for instance, maintained that the city should have told residents that the spring 2000 cleanup would be the only one to occur this year.

Along with the household items, Stoltz said, residents regularly use the cleanups as a way of getting rid of the underbrush around their homes. Leaving the brush where it is a "fire hazard," Stoltz added.

Laurie Hadley, neighborhood services director, acknowledged that it would have been best if the city had notified the public of its plans before the spring cleanup. "We probably should have sent something out earlier," Hadley said. But, she added, "we didn't know until about late May or early June what the City Council would decide."

For the 2000/2001 fiscal year, which began in July, the City Council allocated about $65,000 for the regular cleanups. That is enough for just one cleanup.

Hadley said the city has received several calls recently from people inquiring about when the fall cleanup would begin.

To help make the transition to the once-a-year cleanup, Hadley said the city will conduct smaller neighborhood projects.

By request, the city will place a large roll-off dumpster, which holds about 4 tons of garbage, in the neighborhood for residents to dispose of their large discarded items.

But the smaller cleanups will require some coordination by the neighbors. Hadley said residents who request the cleanup will be responsible for identifying a large parking lot for the dumpster and notifying other residents of the event.

"It will take some work to get out there and spread the word and find a site," Hadley said.

In addition, residents will have to get their items to the dumpster. "We won't be going door-to-door," said Rob Waskow, solid waste superintendent for the city.

Once the neighborhood finds a suitable temporary spot for the dumpster, the city will take over and provide the insurance waiver. City crews will also haul the dumpster in and out of the neighborhood.

Hadley said school or church parking lots are often good sites for the dumpster, which is at the site for one or two days – usually on the weekends. To allow for vehicles to maneuver, "we have to have a good-sized lot," Hadley said.

When the City Council members first considered reducing the cleanups to just one per year, they suggested that the city may be able to have a free dump day at the compactor instead.

But Waskow said the city's transfer station on Sundog Ranch Road is too small to accommodate so much traffic. "I think people would have to wait in line for a long time, and they would be awfully frustrated," Waskow said.

Hadley said the neighborhood services department budget includes about $10,000 for neighborhood cleanups. Each one costs the city about $2,500 to $3,000.