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Cape residents continue to complain about trash collection

By Staff | Nov 19, 2019

Shortly after starting her term three years ago, Cape Coral Councilmember Jennifer Nelson took a ride on a garbage truck to find out what problems, if any, the city’s solid waste collection provider was having with picking up the garbage, especially bulk trash.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, she learned from residents that the problem is far from solved — at least in the view of residents attending the session.

During public comment, several got up to voice their displeasure with bulk trash being piled up on the side of the road for what they say is weeks at a time.

It is an issue Nelson and the mayor hear constantly, officials concede.

“Why do I have to pay for someone who leaves their trash on the side of the street and I have to drive by and look at it every day,” said Gary Elder. “It’s an embarrassment to the city.”

“They skip the yard waste in my yard because they say there’s too big a pile,” said Dan Sheppard. “These are little things that need to be brought out.”

The city is in negotiations with Waste-Pro, the company contracted for solid waste collection in the city.

If negotiations for another deal cannot be reached, the solid waste collection contract will go out to Requests for Proposal, to give other vendors a chance to bid.

Paul Klinghan said he would like to have something done with Waste-Pro before winter hiatus.

Nelson said before she took her truck trip she didn’t realize what a problem it was. Once she saw the issue, she wanted to create an ordinance on bulk trash that would make homeowners pay for the pickup of additional solid waste.

“The residents are right to complain because we haven’t come up with a viable solution. My hope when I took on the bulk trash ordinance was to emulate what they have done in Sarasota and St. Pete where they charge residents,” Nelson said. “It was decided to table the ordinance until we decided to go with Waste-Pro or another company.”

She said learned the biggest challenge is a lack of enough trucks.

“There wasn’t enough infrastructure to handle the growth. That contract was signed in 2010 and the population has gone up so much,” Nelson said. “I was glad when they added five trucks and made some routing changes.”

But despite the continuation of bulk collection complaints, Nelson said the problem isn’t as bad as it has been in the past. They are more isolated than when she started, Nelson said.

Now that Waste-Pro seems to have made improvements, Nelson said she wants to meet with City Attorney Dolores Menendez to draft a bulk trash ordinance.