BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- City council president Brandon Scott is asking that the city do more to help residents after the Department of Public Works suspended curbside recycling through November 1.
Scott sent acting DPW Director Matthew Garbark a letter expressing frustrations to ongoing challenges associated with regular trash and recycling pickup and called on DPW to take steps to better serve residents.
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"For some of our neighborhoods, this announcement comes on top of weeks of disruptions to residential trash and recycling pick up. While COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for our city, it is unacceptable for us to be at this point and more must be done to ensure seniors, people with disabilities, and people without personal vehicles can access basic city services," Scott wrote. "I am frustrated that Baltimore continues to struggle with regular trash pickup, a problem that predates this pandemic. Even as we navigate challenging and unprecedented circumstances, the City has to find a way to complete its most basic responsibilities on behalf of our constituents."
The city's new plan diverts recycling crews to full-time trash collection in an effort to make up for route delays caused by staffing shortages and sickness.
Residents in parts of the city said they have gone weeks without trash pickup.
"A lot of bags on the top, you know, that's too much for the trash can," Baltimore Highlands resident Santos said.
Those bags overflowed on Lombard Street, Santos said.
Scott said the department needs to better prioritize 311 requests for missed trash collection, put additional recycling drop-off sites in each council district, extend hours at the city's drop-off centers and more communication.
"For my part, I will be out there to help alongside our solid waste workers and will be mobilizing my office to support in that effort until regular services can resume. In these challenging times, we must pull together as a community and be willing to think outside of the box," he continued.
He also commended solid waste workers for their hard work during the pandemic and offered support.
"This is not to diminish the labor of the hard-working women and men of DPW, who have contended with coronavirus outbreaks, extreme heat, and an increased load. With the tragic passing of a DPW solid waste worker on the job last week, we must do everything we can to support our frontline workers and keep them safe. I thank our solid waste workers who have continued to show up for their dedicated service," he wrote.
The city opened a number of recycling dropoff locations for residents who want to keep recycling despite the curbside pickup shutdown. Jeff Riner was one of those who visited the site at Dunbar High School on Monday.
"I'd rather bring recycling to a place like this than trash, of course," he said.
David Fawley from southeast Baltimore also dropped off his recycling at Dunbar.
"It's an inconvenience, for sure, but in the scope of things, I mean, c'mon people. This is a global pandemic. These people have to stay safe," he said.
Garbark told WJZ the agency will continue to reevaluate the collection sites.
"I'm seeing some locations that aren't getting a whole lot of use and others that are getting a tremendous amount," he said.
The department is strapped for staffing, he added. While current plans call for the suspension of curbside recycling through the end of October, that may change if the situation improves.
"If we can staff trash with just assigned trash folks. That's going to be the really critical issue before we can get recycling back up and running," Garbark said.
In the interim, DPW will operate 14 locations where recycling can be dropped off:
- District 1: DPW Maritime Operations Facility, 311 Eastbourne Avenue
- District 2: DPW Eastside Sanitation Yard, 6101 Bowleys Lane (open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Saturday)
- District 3: Hamilton Elementary School, 5807 Harford Road
- District 4: Chinquapin Middle School, 900 Woodbourne Avenue
- District 5: Former Police Academy, 3500 W. Northern Parkway
- District 6: Greenspring Middle School, 4701 Greenspring Avenue
- District 7: Westside Elementary School, 2235 N. Fulton Avenue
- District 8: Westside Skills Center, 4501 Edmondson Avenue
- District 9: DPW Meter Shop, 200 N. Franklintown Road
- District 10: DPW Southwest Sanitation Yard, 701 Reedbird Avenue (open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Saturday)
- District 11: Digital Harbor High School, 1100 Covington Street
- District 12: Dunbar High School, 601 N. Central Avenue
- District 13: DPW Property Management Facility,1825 Edison Highway
- District 14: Mergenthaler ("Mervo") High School, 3500 Hillen Road
Trash and recycling can also be dropped off at:
- Sisson Street Citizen Drop-Off Center, located at 2840 Sisson Street, Monday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Northwest Transfer Station, located at 5030 Reisterstown Road, Monday - Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Quarantine Road Landfill, located at 6100 Quarantine Road. Monday - Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
On Sept. 15 at 2:30 p.m. the Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing with the administration and DPW to discuss the impact of COVID-19.
Members of the public and press can stream the hearing online, watch live on CharmTV (Channel 25/1085HD), or call in to listen at 408-418-9388 (Access code: 129 735 5191). Information and an agenda for the hearing can be found here.
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