GUEST COLUMN: Fort Wayne’s garbage service remains inconsistent

Bob Rinearson

Back in January of 2018, the media reported that concerns were being reported with the new agency the city of Fort Wayne had contracted for garbage and re-cycle pickup. It seemed that Red River Waste Solutions was not living up to the expectations promised by the mayor’s Office when the change was announced and Fort Wayne dropped Republic Services.

As WOWO reported, home owners were complaining their trash was not being picked up on time and trash containers had been left turned over or out of place. Even City Councilman Glynn Hines had complained that since the change in contractors, his trash had not been picked up even once on the day it was supposed to be collected. Hines went on to say, “We understand that they’ve had equipment issues, they had employee issues . . . but right now it’s not acceptable, they’ve got to do better”.

That was a year-and-a-half ago, and guess what? It ain’t happened.

I, like Councilman Hines, could not recount a time when my trash had been picked up on the day that it was scheduled. Monday was the day scheduled for my neighborhood. But we never saw the garbage truck come down our street until Tuesday, and often on Wednesdays.

But then our city government must have heard the complaints, because last fall we all got post cards in our mailboxes announcing that the problems had been rectified. My neighborhood was given official notice that our pickup days would continue to be on Mondays, and that we could expect improved service.

Unfortunately our hip-hip hoorays were short lived. I can only remember one occasion when both our trash and recyclables were picked up on time.

But it gets better. A couple of months ago, the garbage collectors showed up on Tuesday. They picked up on the opposite side of the street from where I live. I thought, “OK, they’ll just pick our side up on their way back through the neighborhood.” But that did not happen. In fact, they didn’t pick it up at all, which led me to call 311. They were very nice and promised that our trash would get picked up. The next day, my trash was indeed picked up along with the trash of my neighbors.

Problem solved? Not quite.

A couple of weeks later, the same thing occurred. Now of course I’m thinking, unless every one of the trash collectors are blind in their left eye, why are they not noticing the trash cans on the opposite side of the street? I called 311 again. The person was nice, they apologized, but it wasn’t until Thursday that my trash got picked up.

Well, guess what? Last Monday my fortunate neighbors who live on the south side of the street once again got their trash picked up on Tuesday, not Monday mind you. But those of us on the north side did not. I called and the nice person who took the call apologized and promised it would be picked up by Wednesday evening. Wednesday evening came and went, and again our trash cans remained full. Many of us now called and again promises went unfulfilled.

So it’s now Sunday evening, and our trash cans are still out at the curbs. Most of us have taken a stand of civil disobedience and have refused to pull them back. The question is, of course, what will this week bring? Will we get credit? Will our service get better? Probably not.

After a week of sitting out in the heat and the rain, our trash is starting to get smelly. Like dead skunk in the middle of the road smelly.

What promises can our city government make now that will cause us to change our minds come the next election? To paraphrase Harry Truman, “The garbage stops here!”

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