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Steubenville City Council miffed about trash at park

PARK PROBLEMS — Lori Fetherolf, director of Steubenville’s parks and recreation department, discusses ways to improve the city’s facilities during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. -- Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — City Council made it clear this week it wants action, not excuses, when it comes to getting garbage carts in place and emptied.

Frustrations had boiled over earlier this week during a recreation committee meeting when the discussion turned to trash overflowing cans at Murphy Field. City parks aren’t using the new, 96-gallon carts yet because the colored lids for them aren’t in and no one is sure when they will be delivered.

“The issue isn’t the cans at the pool at all, those aren’t the problem,” 4th Ward Councilman Scott Dressel said Thursday. “The issue is at Murphy Field, they tend to overflow the most.

“I don’t know why. I’m assuming it’s because neighbors are putting trash in them, but none of that matters,” Dressel continued. “What matters is switching to the new carts so sanitation can pick them up.”

Sanitation trucks are now equipped with a special mechanism on the side of the packer that lifts the cans above the truck and dumps the debris into the packer.

Parks and Recreation Director Lori Fetherolf said the lids for their new carts will be red, “so that we know they belong in the parks. If one is moved or stolen, we can recognize it.”

Until the new cart lids are delivered, Fetherolf said her department is using the old blue barrel trash cans because her staff can still empty them by hand — something they couldn’t do with a loaded 96-gallon trash cart. And, because the trash is now loaded into the top of the sanitation packers, trash from the old cans can’t be loaded into the packers by hand anymore.

“We are going to be replacing all of the blue barrel park trash cans with city trash cans,” she said Thursday. “We also will be getting rid of all park dumpsters. Sanitation will then empty the trash cans and save the wear and tear of my staff physically emptying the cans as we currently do.”

City Manager Jim Mavromatis said receptacles the city put out in other areas to discourage littering are a problem, too.

“They’re being abused all over the city,” he said, adding that people are stuffing construction materials and other items in them illegally. “People are finding other receptacles to throw their refuse in.”

“I would rather have trash in cans than all over our streets and alleys,” Dressel said, adding, “How many times does council have to say, ‘Pick up the trash?'”

Dressell said Fetherolf and Sanitation Superintendent Bob Baird need to figure out a system that works.

“Generally, once a week is probably going to be enough, but if there’s an event — a ballgame or an event at the shelter — they could have more trash that needs emptied. They need to figure out a way to communicate that so they can get the trucks up there and empty the carts.”

Dressel said there needs to be “clear direction that, when they’re up there, they need to be emptied.”

“In the end, no matter what, the city will have to clean up the mess,” he added. “It’s just easier to keep them clean than let things build up.”

Third Ward Councilman Eric Timmons agreed, pointing out he’s been complaining about litter since he’s been in office.

“We should pick up the garbage whatever the circumstance,” he said. “We can’t let it sit and fester. There are kids who walk around the streets, families — it needs picked up. It attracts rodents. Then it gets accepted as the norm. By all means, charge the culprit if possible, but it needs to be picked up. If it has to be at the city’s expense, so be it.”

Second Ward Councilman Craig Petrella questioned why, months later, there’s still no clear answer as to when the lids will be in for the park system’s carts.

“If it’s taking so long getting them from one company, why aren’t we looking around for another company?” Petrella said. “Maybe I’m wrong, but I know when I order something, they give me some kind of (estimated arrival date).”

Dressel said he’s less worried about extra costs that might be involved than he is about keeping the city clean and litter free.

“I don’t need endless reports about something that’s been brought up by everybody sitting here,” he said. “Let’s just pick it up. If the costs get to be about $1 million, tell me about it — (otherwise) just pick it up.”

Fetherolf, meanwhile, told council it was a successful year for the pool, with more than 3,000 uses. Interest in pool memberships is up, she said, and there were eight pool rentals this year compared to only three in 2018.

“Most of them paid extra to go beyond the three hours,” she added.

Belleview Clubhouse also was busy most Saturdays and Sundays from June through August with rentals.

Council discussed replacing the 28 broken glass block windows at the pool, but this time using either a mesh or acrylic covering to lessen the risk they’ll be broken again.

“If we fix them, we should cover them inside and out,” Dressel said.

Fetherolf told council that because it’s on the historic registry, the old sandstone bridge at Beatty Park is eligible for federal and state grants, “but it’s a slower process.”

The department has already received a check from its insurance company to cover repairs to the shelter behind the bridge. That shelter was damaged by fire earlier this year.

“The shelter will be taken care of as soon as the bridge gets fixed,” she said.

Fetherolf and council discussed the feasibility of trying to repair another shelter, this one farther up the hill. The roof on that one was removed years ago, council was told.

If the city could provide the materials needed, it’s been suggested volunteers would be willing to rebuild the roof.

Fetherolf, though, said more study is needed.

“I don’t want to sink money into something that nobody uses when we have so many other projects we need to do,” Fetherolf said.

She said the department is looking at ways to prevent vehicles from driving vehicles into shelters.

“We’ve chained tables together but they’ve still moved them as far as they can so they can (drive their vehicles) into the shelters.”

“It’s unfathomable that someone would do that,” Dressel said.

Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn credited 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna with suggesting they look into staging an Oktoberfest at Beatty Park next year.

“It’s never going to be a pool again but it’s a beautiful, natural park,” Villamagna said. “To let it sit up there and do nothing with it (is a mistake).”

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