A valued service

Jun 6, 2014 By Steven R. Peck

Public reaction to losing alley trash collection shows it is valued highly

The Riverton City Council apparently has been getting an earful from alley dumpster users since the decision to do away with the receptacles was announced last month.

This week the council did the right thing in agreeing to re-evaluate that decision.

In a far-from-scientific analysis of citizen response to the plan, one interpretation is that opinion is divided between those who don't care one way or the other about the idea, and those who hate it.

Our own letter-to-the-editor total now stands at 6-0 -- meaning six who disagree with quitting alley trash pickup and none of any other opinion. Again, not exactly MIT-style research, but an indication nonetheless that this idea has plenty of detractors.

Objectors raised numerous arguments against the new mandate, including:

- Difficulty for older residents to handle the roll-out containers;

- Correspondingly, the likelihood that the roll-outs would not be rolled back following trash pickup, meaning more street fronts dotted with garbage containers;

- On-street parking making it difficult to find a spot to roll the container to the curb, particularly in areas where residents are accustomed to alley collection;

- Skepticism about professed efficiency improvements and money savings when a truck has to stop, for example, at 12 houses per block, in two directions, to collect from roll-outs, compared to one trip through an alley to empty four dumpsters;

- A general increase in inconvenience to customers;

- Increased traffic and noise problems caused by frequent stops by trucks on residential streets, many in older parts of town, where on-street parking is significant.

- Lack of recognition that many parts of Riverton were built with an alley plan so that trash collection could take place more or less out of sight;

- And a general feeling of disregard for the hundreds of households relying on alley pickup, who prefer it, who are willing to pay for it, and who perceive other areas in city government where efficiency and financial savings could be found without inconveniencing rate-paying consumers.

Some note as well that 2014 is a municipal election year -- probably not a good time to create a big public-service stink with residents who also happen to be registered voters.

The letters, the phone calls, the conversations, the crowd at City Hall -- it's all part of healthy civic participation, and it contributes to good local government.

Whether the city will relent and reverse the decision is not certain, but officials are correct in deciding to examine other possibilities that offer at least the potential of maintaining this service which most people don't use but which clearly is valued -- highly -- by those who do.

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