POTSDAM – In an effort to resolve a continuing problem of trash on downtown sidewalks, especially after weekends, Mayor Stephen Yurgartis is asking downtown business owners for their ideas on how to tackle the problem.
“I know that as a downtown business owner you have made a huge commitment to our downtown; I would like the Village government to recognize your commitment and do our share to help your business thrive,” Yurgratis said in a letter to business owners. “Part of what we can do is to help keep downtown looking good. It has become clear to me that we need to put more effort in that direction. But what should we do?”
Part of the problem stems from overflowing trash barrels downtown, which could be replaced with larger, more substantial barrels, and accumulations from weekend activity, the effect of which might be alleviated somewhat by moving the Tuesday pickup to Monday morning, Yurgartis suggests.
“We hope this will get weekend garbage out of the bins sooner so that it has less chance to get spread around,” Yurgartis said in a list of actions already ordered.
The Casella company, now contracted to empty the bins, “will be checking that their drivers are emptying all the appropriate trash bins, including Fall Island and Ives Park,” the mayor said.
The mayor also said that village Department of Public Works staff “will start picking up trash on the sidewalks on Monday morning. This is an experiment, to see how much manpower is needed to do this job, and how often such pick up is needed.” He also said they will “experiment with pressure washing a section of downtown sidewalk. This will allow us to see how effective it is and to estimate the time/cost to wash all the downtown sidewalks.”
He is not suggesting at this point that the DPW be made responsible for the cleanup every week. Another idea being talked about in the village offices is approving a provision in the village code requiring takeout food businesses to take responsibility by supplying trash barrels outside their establishments and maintaining and emptying them.
Other ideas and discussion topics from among village trustees and staff were listed in Yurgartis’s letter:
• The current trash bins in downtown are beat up and in need of replacement. What kind of new containers should we purchase? How many do we need? Where should they be located?
• Can we divert some of the manpower used in brush pick up and redirect it to keeping downtown cleaned up? Alternatively, can we develop a payment system for brush pick up (similar to our trash stickers) that would generate revenue that we could direct to downtown clean up?
• Could we hire a part time employee that would only work on Saturday mornings to clean up downtown and the parks?
• Should we install "butt" containers outside of bars? Should we require bars to do so?
• Is pressure washing downtown sidewalks effective? Is it worth it? How often should it be done?
• Should we provide separate bins for recyclables? How can we avoid mixing?
• What should be the role of downtown businesses in cleaning up? What should be done about businesses that do not do their fair share?
• What should be the role of volunteers in keeping downtown looking good?
“This is just a start,” Yurgartis said. “I welcome other suggestions.”
“As you consider your comments, please recognize that any increased village effort in downtown clean up will require a redirection of effort from current services. In other words, compromises will be necessary,” he said, and noted he intends to hold to his plan to keep village expenses down.
“I think of our downtown as the parlor of our village; it is where we entertain our many visitors, and where our visitors often form their first impressions. I am sure you share with me the desire to make it a welcoming place. Let's work together on it!” he said.