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Litter Problem: Jacksonville Council Members Look At How To Clean Up ‘Trash Everywhere’

The city needs to do something about an increase in litter. That was the consensus as several Jacksonville City Council members met Monday morning.

Councilwoman Katrina Brown called the meeting, saying she’s had enough.

“Trash everywhere,” she said. “When you get off the interstate, you just see litter, trash. I’m actually seeing people just throw trash out their cars.”

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Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News
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WJCT News
Council members John Crescimbeni (left), Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown all met Monday to talk about litter in Jacksonville.

She brought with her a list of 25 sites the city has recognized as having problems with illegal trash dumping. One is the area around Lem Turner Road and Riverview Park near the Trout River. A quick survey of the park by WJCT News Monday afternoon found four tires in nearby ditch, fast food bags and a toilet there.

Brown began Monday’s meeting by saying she’d like to get the mayor on board with an anti-littering campaign and better mailer materials on the subject. Then she asked city department reps to report on anti-litter efforts and what they need from City Council.

Solid Waste Division Chief Will Williams said two small litter crews are stretched thin every day just responding to complaints.

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Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News
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WJCT News
Several tires are in a ditch in Jacksonville's Riverview area near Lem Turner Road.

“I learned today is that we’re short-staffed with litter pickup,” Brown said. “Right now we’re currently running two crews and we used to run five to six crews for a litter campaign.”

Councilman Reggie Brown suggested the city look into funding a litter team for each of its 14 districts.

He also said it would be worth looking at devoting more community service workers to litter pickup.

To Catch A Litterer

Councilwoman Brown also said she’d like to make sure surveillance cameras are pointed at areas notorious for illegal dumping.

But a Jacksonville police officer told Council members that JSO’s hidden cameras don’t have high enough resolution to read license plates of illegal dumpers, and most arrests have been from citizens tips. Undersheriff Pat Ivey is being invited to tell Council more about how JSO is dealing with the issue.

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Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News
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WJCT News
The Riverview area near Lem Turner is a hot spot for illegal trash dumping.

Councilman John Crescimbeni said several years ago City Council looked into contracting with an outside company to supply cameras that would be able to clearly capture license plates in the dark, but JSO instead took over the task.

Crescimbeni said he’d like to see more punishments for littering, perhaps making offenders wear pink vests with saying something like “I litter” on them, or making sure news organizations get video of people illegally dumping garbage.  

Some Answers Already Known

Councilwoman Joyce Morgan told her colleagues a lot of potential fixes have already been researched. Sixteen years ago, the city commissioned a 28-page litter study.

“It's all here, she said. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Another meeting on the topic is expected in two weeks.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride.