City representatives recently met with the residential waste management company to address some recurring problems, such as broken garbage bins and leaking trucks.
“We expressed our concerns, and Veolia has been very cooperative in every respect,” said Mayor Jim Heigl. “They’ve been working in neighborhoods getting cans replaced as soon as possible. We think citizens have absolutely noticed a difference.”
Veolia responded to the city’s concerns with a blitz to replace damaged garbage bins about three weeks ago. During the first blitz, Veolia replaced 150 broken or damaged bins with new ones.
“Typically, we wait on people to call in to replace or repair a cart, but during our blitz, we just went door to door,” said Veolia general manager Scott Henderson. “We thought it would help cut down on calls and be a better, more proactive way to get residents the help they need.”
Henderson said they have received positive feedback from the blitz and hope to do it again next month.
“The number of calls we get has drastically lowered,” he said. “The blitzes are something we hope to do quarterly from now on. Anything we can ever do to maintain good service and keep good relations with the city and people we serve, we will do.”
Henderson said calls about damaged bins were cut in half, from about 120 in July to 60 in August.
The Lincoln-based company has also repaired seals on its trucks to prevent hydraulic fluid and dirty water leaks. Henderson said residents can always call Veolia if there is a leak that needs to be cleaned.
The city’s efforts to clean up don’t end with the garbage service, however. The Street Department, which has been six employees down this year, will soon be hiring three new employees in preparation for the fall leaf season.
The department is currently spraying for mosquitoes as well, another effort Heigl said citizens wanted to see.
“We debated whether or not we were going to do it, but we had a supply on hand big enough to cover the whole city, so I felt like it needed to be done,” Heigl said. “With the West Nile virus going around, why take a chance. I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
Heigl added that citizens should help out with mosquito control by dumping any stagnant water on their property.
More improvements may be ahead when the city’s new administration takes office in November. Mayor-elect Doug Murphree said cleaning up the city is one of the first tasks he plans on tackling.
“I have several things in mind to clean the streets up, and hopefully some of them will work, but it will really take a community effort to get the city back in shape and keep it that way,” Murphree said.
Among the potential projects is repairing the broken street sweeper, working with Street Department Superintendent Tommy Woolley to identify and address problem areas and possibly enforcing a litter ordinance.
“Tuscaloosa has a very strict litter ordinance, and that is something I would like to see incorporated here,” Murphree said. “Getting the public educated and involved in keeping everything clean is very important.”
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