By Andrea Cordle
“I live and breathe this community,” said Lisa Boggs, who has lived on the Hilltop for 36 years and has been the coordinator for the South-Central Hilltop Block Watch for more than 20 years.
Over the past two decades, Boggs has noticed a troubling trend on the Hilltop – trash. For the past 17 years, she has organized litter clean-ups through her block watch and she encourages her neighbors to get involved in caring for the community. She meets regularly with Columbus city leaders and the refuse department.
“This is my purpose,” said Boggs.
That is why Boggs was thrilled with the city of Columbus’ new plan to address illegal dumping.
“With this plan, we have a chance to get a handle on this,” said Boggs.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, along with council members and community leaders held an event to go over the new plan, that is part of the city’s comprehensive neighborhood safety strategy, on July 31 at the Westgate Community Center.
“To build stronger, safer neighborhoods, we are working with residents in our opportunity neighborhoods to address a key quality of life issue – illegal dumping,” said Ginther. “By dedicating resources to prevention, enforcement and education, we will be able to cut down on crime and revitalize communities.”
The prevention portion of the plan includes mapping 311 complaints to pin point illegal dumping hot spots and reducing the 300-gallon container to a 90-gallon container. According to city leaders, the larger trash containers are a magnet for illegal dumping.
Part of the preventative measures also includes ground crews for alleyway cleanup.
Boggs said she is very happy about this portion of the plan.
“After the trucks go through and pick-up the trash, there will be people on the ground to pick-up what is left behind,” said Boggs. “This is more than an illegal dumping plan. This is a comprehensive clean-up plan.”
Keep Columbus Beautiful will also continue to work with neighborhood groups and local businesses to clean-up the community.
Part of the new plan also deals with enforcement. The city will invest $500,000 to expand safety cameras into select alleys. This would deter not only illegal dumping, but also prostitution, drug crimes and violent crime. The city will also increase the number of cameras used by solid waste inspectors to record areas prone to illegal dumping.
Columbus police will provide light duty officers to assist in reviewing dumping incidences caught on camera.
“Illegal dumping continues to be a growing concern in neighborhoods throughout our city,” said city councilman Emmanuel Remy. “Columbus residents take great pride in the communities and I look forward to working with them to clean up our streets and hold those engaging in this activity accountable.”
Boggs said this is a huge problem on the Hilltop. She said there are a lot of renters; many people moving in and out. When they move out, they leave behind bulk items without calling the city to remove the trash. Boggs also said contractors who work on the rehab homes leave construction materials along the alleyways and roadways. They fit what they can into the containers, then leave the rest on the ground.
“This is in every alley,” said Boggs.
As part of the city’s plan, solid waste inspectors and code enforcement officers would make sure these types of materials on private property are properly disposed by a hauler. Code enforcers will also be working with the city attorney’s office to ensure action against offenders.
The final part of the illegal dumping plan involves a public education campaign to bring awareness to the problem and to get the community involved.
Boggs said this is critical for real change.
“It will take a change of heart from people,” said Boggs. “If just a few residents from every block got involved, the issue would be almost solved.”
Boggs said everyone can do something. If they cannot physically pick up litter, they can call 311 and report a pile of garbage or discarded bulk items.
The community activist said the people on the Hilltop should enjoy their neighborhood.
“Clean areas are safer,” said Boggs. “Safer areas get economic development.”
The city will start replacing the 300-gallon containers on certain Hilltop streets within the next few months then expand to other areas in the city.
For more information about litter clean-up efforts, visit www.keepcolumbusbeautiful.org.