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City officials, residents talk trash in alleyways

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Joe Neeb, Roswell city manager speaks to a crowd at Thursday’s public forum at the Waymaker Church at 202 S. Sunset Ave. One of the topics discussed is the issue of dumping in alleyways. (Alex Ross Photo)

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Trash in alleyways was discussed Thursday at a public forum hosted by the city at the Waymaker Church.

People identified the issue of trash being dumped in alleyways as a key problem. At the two-hour meeting, they spoke how it has blighted the land just outside their property.

One man in the audience said he has seen people in an alley just off one of his properties sift through trash receptacles and remove items from them before leaving the area. Loose trash is then picked up by the wind and scattered around the alleyway.

“So yeah, that is a problem,” the audience member said.

A woman in the audience said she has witnessed people dumping trash in dumpsters behind her property and then leaving.

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Another woman said an increase in vehicles and pedestrians who come from the alleyway makes her reluctant to step out of her house after dark. Then in the morning, she said needles can often be found in the alleyways near the dumpster.

She suggested that perhaps the city should look at replacing the large 300-gallon trash containers shared by multiple property owners, with 96-gallon totes used by an individual tenant or property owner that are often rolled out when the city’s trash service comes by.

Doing so, she said, might reduce the volume of people that come through those alleyways.

Joe Neeb, manager for the city of Roswell, fielded questions from the crowd. He said the city is considering replacing the larger dumpsters with the smaller totes in some neighborhoods.

However, he said, some residents like the 300-gallon receptacles because they can place their trash in it and that is especially true on weeks when a great deal of trash is generated.

One key problem with the large amount of garbage dumped in alleyways is that it is often building materials left behind by contractors who do work on houses and then just leave the construction materials in alleyways.

Another woman in the audience told Neeb people have dumped trash in the receptacles behind her house, some even leaving large tree branches and construction materials. Though the construction materials are gone, she said the city has still not come by with its grapple truck to collect the tree branches.

The grapple truck is sent by the city to pick up larger trash items and she said that despite calling the city, the truck has not come by to pick up the branches and bulk collection of discarded items.

Neeb said in recent years, more people have been hired by grappler services and trash services so each operates independently of one another, and the goal is to have the grapple service come by once a month to each neighborhood.

People who have extra materials that need to be taken away by the grappler truck should call the city.

One man in the audience said the city could help lessen the problem of dumping by setting aside one day a month when people could dump items at the city landfill free of cost.

Neeb later explained residents who go to the landfill and present a water bill can dump items once a month and have the normal fee for dumping there waived.

Keeping clutter in alleyways to a minimum is important, Neeb said, not only for their appearance but because doing so changes the mindset of the affected neighborhood.

“We believe that if we can keep the alleyways clean, that changes the psychology of the neighborhood. It changes the mentality of the neighborhood,” Neeb said.

As far as people in the alleyways, Philip Smith, Roswell chief of police, told the woman who said she found needles in her alleyway to fill out a FixIT form on the city’s website because he receives those.

He said if people in the alleyways are a constant problem, officers will patrol it at night. Smith said doing so is especially important if needles have been found in those alleys because that means they are not passing through but habituating there.

“And we need to know about that,” Smith said.

To submit a concern on the FixItForm, people can go to http://roswell-nm.gov/FormCenter/Contact-Forms-5/Fix-It-Form-54

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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