When the once and current mayor Guttenberg Robert Sabello took office again last year, one of the main items on his administration’s agenda was to insure that the streets of the township would remain as clean as possible.
A year later, Sabello and his administration are trying their best to live up to those promises, even though the private firm that currently collects the curbside trash in the town is causing a ton of headaches for the residents.
“There really is no specific time frame when they’re supposed to pick up the trash,” Councilman David Delle Donna said. “So the companies are coming as late as 5 p.m. some days to pick up the trash. They’ll pick up half the street at 9 a.m., then come back to get the other half after five. Nothing was spelled out when they’re supposed to pick up the trash, so they’re not breaking any laws.”
Added Delle Donna, “But the garbage trucks come in the middle of rush hour and they block the entire street. Cars are then stuck behind the garbage trucks; then no one gets out. It becomes a nightmare.”
The irregularity of curbside trash pickups has also led to some trash being left on the curbside for days at a time, Delle Donna said.
Another problem has been the use of regular paper bags and plastic trash bags, without the use of a proper waste receptacle or can. Residents are leaving the paper bags and plastic bags out on the curb at night where stray animals can rip them open.
“Plus, if the bags are ripped or half open and things fall out, the garbage men don’t stop to pick it up,” Delle Donna said. “That leads to even more garbage in the streets.”
Two weeks ago, the Township Council passed two resolutions that will enable the township to have more leverage in its battle against garbage.
First, the township has put a new trash collection contract out to bid. Beginning Jan. 15, township officials can receive new contract offers from waste management organizations that would be willing to handle Guttenberg’s trash.
“The present garbage collector is free to bid, but we felt it was better if we opened up the bidding,” said Delle Donna, who also acts as the business chairman for the council.
Next, the township passed an ordinance that will restrict the hours for garbage collection. According to the terms of the new ordinance, pickups can only be made between the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. twice a week, in order to cut down on traffic woes and to insure that the trash left out overnight is taken away as swiftly as possible.
“That had to be spelled out in writing,” Delle Donna said. “Nothing existed before this ordinance was introduced.”
Everyone needs trash cans
At the same time, an ordinance was passed that forces township residents to place their trash in proper trash receptacles. Paper bags or plastic bags left on the curb will not be accepted.
“Everyone is supposed to have trash cans by Jan. 1,” Delle Donna said. “It was supposed to first be introduced in November and a lot of people started making the change. The ones that did not comply received a letter from us. In January, summonses will be issued to those who don’t comply. We’re not looking to make money on the deal. Money is not the object. We’re just trying to find the best way to clean up the streets.”
Added Delle Donna: “This way, there will be set hours for garbage collection. It will be easier for the garbage men to pick up the trash, and in turn, our streets will be cleaner.”
Currently, trash is collected Monday and Thursday from Hudson Avenue to Boulevard East and on Tuesday and Friday from Hudson Avenue to Kennedy Boulevard. Recyclable collection is held on Wednesdays.
“We’ve noticed already that the streets are a little cleaner,” Delle Donna said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day. But we’re on our way.”
As part of the cleaner streets program, the township has used Urban Enterprise Zone funds to purchase a new street sweeper that will sweep Bergenline Avenue for one hour daily. Also, the township will look to hire people who will be willing to work as street sweepers after Jan. 1.
The township will also use $90,000 of a state Department of Transportation grant to fix 71st Street, from Palisade Avenue to Boulevard East, to repair potholes in the street and fix certain dips.
“It’s all part of a plan to aggressively fix our streets,” Delle Donna said.
Plans for the repairs to 71st Street will also be introduced after the first of the year.