Saturday, February 4, 2023

"This town is an open trash can": Borough officials discuss Columbia's trash problem

When: Columbia Borough Council meeting, Jan. 24.

Quotable: "This town is an open trash can," Mary Wickenheiser told council members during the public comment portion. "All I can think of is we're trying to draw visitors to this town."

What happened: Columbia's planning commission chair told council members that overflowing borough trash cans are fueling a downtown litter problem that could drive away tourists.

Borough reactions: "We all own this town," Heather Zink, council president, said during a phone conversation after the meeting. "Residents need to keep the front of their property clean." After the meeting, Mayor Leo Lutz said, "The trash cans need to be refurbished and maintained."

The problem: Some downtown borough residents put household trash into borough cans instead of depositing it in a dumpster or other place specified by a property owner. Regular street sweeping handled excess litter but sweeping has stopped for winter.

Solutions: "Our plan right now is to fine any violators, as well as educate people on the proper use of those cans," Borough Manager Mark Stivers said in an email after the meeting.

More info: Columbia has 18 open trash cans downtown. River Valley, a contractor, empties those cans on Tuesdays and Fridays. Borough workers can sort through household trash bags to find the owner, Stivers said. The violation carries a $500 fine.

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