2016-02-11 / Opinion


Curbing Sidewalk Issues

I t’s been nearly two years since the city’s current waste and recycling contract with Waste Management, Inc. was inked. In that time, the program, formally known as Clean City Newport, seems to have won more praise than criticism.

While we had our doubts about the program when it made its debut back in April, 2014, we have come to accept the worthiness of the large black (trash) and blue (recycling) bins that city residents roll out to the sidewalk each week. What we hear is that the week-in, week-out collection of what’s piled into these bins seems to be working out pretty well.

But it’s a different story with Aunt Mildred’s worn-out old sofa. You know, the one with rusty springs and years-old coffee stains. Before Clean City, residents simply hauled their old bulky items such as sofas, chairs—you name it—to the sidewalk on trash day and, somehow, the city of Newport made them disappear.

But Clean City changed that. Now you must go to City Hall and buy a sticker. The cost depends on the size of your refuse–$15 for less bulky items and up to $60 for larger, heavier things. Residents must then call Waste Management to schedule a curbside pickup on either the first or third Thursday of the month.

Have you got all that?

From what we’ve seen around the city, there are apparently numerous residents who’ve never gotten the message that you can no longer simply toss Aunt Mildred’s old couch without stickers and dollars. And we are aware of some dead end streets that miscreants have turned into illegal dumping grounds.

What to do? The City Council has asked the administration to reevaluate the bulky waste system to determine if there are viable options. If in the process the city discovers that many residents never got the message on the new process, an informational campaign may be in order.

While we’re on the subject of what’s taking up sidewalk space these days, we’d be remiss if we didn’t comment on the many snow-filled sidewalks we continue to see around the city. This is particularly worrisome on busy corners, where crosswalks converge. A Newport ordinance requires homeowners or occupants to clear sidewalks of snow within five hours of sunrise after a storm. However, this is not strictly enforced, particularly if residents are elderly.

Since it appears the city will not assume responsibility for clearing access to all crosswalks–as it did in front of City Hall–civic-minded businesses may want to clear snow where the plows have left off. Bouchard, the popular Lower Thames Street restaurant and inn, has cleared nearby sidewalks for safer traversing in its neighborhood.

That also helps residents.

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