THE SQUEAKY WHEEL- Trashy Rivanna: Who's responsible for river trash?
As they enter Charlottesville or travel the Rivanna Trail, thousands of motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians get a clear view of a trash heap at the base of the retaining wall visible from Free Bridge. Such high-profile location, immediately adjacent to the AutoZone store, was heavily littered in the past, cleaned about a year ago, and is now accumulating litter again. Is this an appropriate first impression of Charlottesville?
Whose trash is it, anyway?
AutoZone, which sits atop the retaining wall, does provide several trash barrels for customer use, but apparently not all customers use them. I poked around the base of the wall and discovered that some of the litter consists of auto parts packing materials. But much of the flotsam is of unidentifiable origin, and store manager Tom Moyers believes that the land where litter collects is not AutoZone's responsibility. Charlottesville trail planner Chris Gensic says the Rivanna Trail sits on a relatively narrow easement through the property with the littered area nowhere near it.
Who cleared the trash last time?
I was surprised to learn that of the three logical choices– AutoZone, Rivanna Trails Foundation, and private property owner Kimco LC– none cleared the trash last year. An environmentally concerned 13-year old boy collected this litter as a community service project in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah. But the litter is back.
Who will collect litter next time?
The City's Gensic says he is currently developing a comprehensive trail management plan including agreements for litter management. I reached Grant Cosner of land owner Kimco, who leases to AutoZone and grants the Rivanna Trail easement. Cosner says he's so unhappy with the trash situation that he is currently negotiating with AutoZone to manage litter as part of the lease. Cosner anticipates an agreement will be in place in several weeks. This suggests litter removal will soon be systematic, but we can also applaud the unidentified boy who took independent action to remedy this aesthetic and environmental problem. Never underestimate the power of one concerned citizen to get a job done.
Trash nobody wants to claim
PHOTO BY PETER KLEEMAN