Steamboat city manager embarrassed by downtown litter situation
The city of Steamboat Springs will consider spending more on summer trash collection after overflowing trash cans around town earlier this month disturbed some residents and elected officials.
City officials also will look into strengthening their special event contracts with such groups as Triple Crown to hold event organizers more accountable for the waste their events generate.
“I’m still trying desperately to understand why we can’t get more trash service during the two busiest weekends in the summertime in Steamboat Springs,” City Councilwoman Heather Sloop said Tuesday night. “We’re sitting here as a resort community. We’re sales tax driven, and we can’t pick up trash?”
Sloop said she’s received emails and photos from residents concerned about the trash this summer.
The site of overflowing trash bins and litter strewn on downtown streets came despite reports of increased trash pickups in the city for the busy Fourth of July holiday week.
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It also came despite the efforts of downtown merchants pitching in at times to help out and replace trash bags.
City officials said this week the volume of waste was too much for city staff to handle during one of the busiest times of the year.
Sloop said she was frustrated because she thought elected officials were assured last year that the city would get a handle on the trash situation and invest in new trash receptacles.
City Manager Gary Suiter said he himself was “embarrassed” by the trash pileups in the city in recent weeks.
Suiter said he was on Yampa Street eating breakfast around 9 a.m. on Sunday, July 2, when he saw the problem. He noticed there were half-full black trash bags lying on the city’s new promenade along with leftover food containers, cigarette butts and other trash.
“I was embarrassed at the level of trash that was out on Yampa,” Suiter said.
Suiter told the council the amount of trash generated by residents and tourists on the busy summer weekends in July is just too much for city workers to handle.
“They’re overwhelmed,” he said of parks employees and community service officers.
On Tuesday, Suiter suggested the city look into contracting out some more trash collection services and increasing the waste management budget.
The city currently pays Waste Management to service trash cans in the downtown area.
Suiter also thinks the city should look into strengthening its special event contracts to hold event organizers more accountable for trash pickup.
Some council members suggested all event organizers should be made to pay a deposit they would only get back if the spaces they used weren’t trashed.
Triple Crown recently drew the ire of some residents after adults from a July 2 softball tournament left a ball field near the Mountain Fire Station trashed following a game.
Photos sent to the newspaper showed mouth guards, beer cans and other trash creating a path from the dugouts to a public sidewalk near the vacant ball field.
After she was sent a photo of the trashed field, Triple Crown event organizer Patty Harsch said in an email the organization’s partnership with the city is very important.
“We will continue to work TOGETHER towards the best outcomes for everyone involved, and this includes upkeep on trash removal from the beautiful parks,” she wrote.
A review of the Triple Crown contract shows the responsibility for trash collection is mostly placed on the city, and there are no apparent ramifications for the group if players leave a field and the bleachers trashed.
However, Council President Walter Magill appeared to reveal an inconsistency in special event contracts on Tuesday night when he pointed out that organizers of local soccer tournaments are made to pick up their trash following their events.
Councilman Jason Lacy suggested when the Triple Crown contract is up for renewal in 2020, the city should strengthen it in the area of trash collection.
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