Trash plan: Dumpsters due Downtown?

Don't look now, but it appears that the top stroll zone in America's #1 city is generating so much filth that the City wants to step in and buy three 50-foot-long refuse receptacles costing over $30,000 each.

The multi-use devices for the Downtown Mall would include trash compactors, places for recycling cardboard, and even grease collection containers. But not everyone agrees with the proposal.

"They say it's going to be attractive, and I say not," says Charles Kabbash, who lives and works downtown. "Do you ever hang around dumpsters? I've never seen a trash collection facility that somebody didn't put a sofa on top of."

Although Kabbash agrees that something needs to be done, he says he likes the current system of private trash bags and cans taken to the sidewalk– "with some modifications."

Kabbash suggests the City could act as a conduit to buy heavy-duty-but-colorful trash bags. "For instance," says Kabbash, "in Tampa they have a tropical theme. They're not just those black bags that flap around."

Tony LaBua, owner of Chaps Ice Cream, says he's somewhat skeptical about the cost efficacy of compactors and recycling facilities, but he's thrilled about having a place to dump his oil.

"The grease collection is an awesome idea," says LaBua, "because what happens now is we put these grease buckets in our trash cans, and frequently they'll get picked up by the trash collectors, and since they're so heavy, they drop them– and grease goes everywhere."

In February, a City survey revealed that downtown churns out more than 13 tons of garbage every week, and many downtown denizens aren't happy with the existing mix of trash receptacles which often clutter sidewalks.

"It's an eyesore," says city planner Jim Tolbert. "If we want to have people come downtown and to our shops and restaurants and have them walk past garbage, it's a problem."

At a public forum in early September, the front-running solution seemed to be installation of three centralized trash collection facilities around the Mall. While officials seemed reasonably satisfied with the Market Street and Fourth Street locations chosen for the "central" and "eastern" locations, two potential sites were under consideration for a "western" facility near the Omni Hotel.

Nearly two months later, however, final locations were still undecided. Tolbert, working on the project in conjunction with the Department of Public Works, is quick to point out that while they've narrowed down their site choices, there's still no guarantee that construction will move ahead.

"Everything's on the table at this point," says Tolbert.

Kabbash says that his attitude isn't, "Not in my backyard!" After all, he lives on Market Street and works on Third Street, so he'll have to bear the brunt of whichever proposal rises to the top of the proverbial heap.

"It's in my backyard, whatever we do," Kabbash says.

Grease is the word!