Discarded items are littering the streets of Greenville, and the mayor has said it must stop.
According to Mayor Errick Simmons and Public Works Director Jermaine Thornton, over 1,200 illegally dumped tires have been picked up in the city limits over the last two weeks by city employees and public works crews.
“This must stop. It has to stop,” Simmons said. “We’ve spotted some individuals with a slew of tires on their vehicles and trucks and we’ve caught some individuals with dumping. So, we’re trying to tell our residents if you see something, say something.”
Months ago, an illegal dumping task force was organized and consists of Simmons, Police Chief Delando Wilson, Fire Chief Ruben Brown, Planning Director Carolyn Williams, Code Enforcer Daryl Richards Sr., as well as councilmen Al Brock and James Wilson.
Dating all the way back to February, excessive dumping and trash debris has been a major concern of the Greenville City Council.
Former Ward 3 Councilman Bill Boykin brought the topic to attention at a February meeting.
“The least expensive thing that we’ve spent money on is cleaning this town up, we don’t have a lot of money to do a lot of other things but there’s no rhyme or reason when people come here they don’t say, ‘That’s the cleanest town I’ve ever been to,’” Boykin said.
The entire council was in agreement about the need for a cleaner, more attractive Greenville and months later, Simmons is echoing those sentiments even more vigorously.
He said there has to be a collective response to cure the problem of dumping and the city council has executed a “two-part” approach in doing so.
“One — we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can do to offer an opportunity for our residents, (not businesses, not contractors) to be able to bring tires or furniture or debris to the city’s public works compound,” Simmons said.
He continued, “So, as it relates to tires, if you (residents) have tires, you can bring them to the city compound entering on Mill Road. Your ID will be checked there will be a process for you to do that.”
Simmons also said should residents have other debris, they can bring it to the public works compound entering on Mill Road as well.
He reiterated the approach the council is taking is aimed at ensuring residents are not just senselessly and illegally dumping trash and debris on the city and public right-of-ways, corners and ditches.
“We’ve seen these things happen at alarming rates,” Simmons said. “Residents are calling us complaining about their area looking horrible, and so we have to be our brother’s keeper and we have to make sure we’re taking care of each other.”
He highlighted the second part of the approach — the Greenville City Council and the charter and ordinance committee are exploring the possibility of establishing tire disposal and tire storage hubs for retail companies, tire repair shops and the like.
Simmons clarified that the approach would focus on developing a system in which Greenville’s tire companies, contractors and tire repair businesses have some type of system and a manifest to let city officials know where their tires are being disposed.
Simmons also noted he and the council will be looking at an ordinance regarding debris, but wants everyone to understand that a fine of up to $1,000 for illegal dumping in the City of Greenville will be enforced.
He was asked why it was so critical to address the tire dumping issue considering in the past, people have brushed it off and deemed it to be “much ado about nothing.”
“It’s a public safety issue first,” Simmons said. “And so, with these illegally dumped tires, our fire department has responded to a particular street in Greenville where folks have dumped tires and they’ve caught on fire close to a home.”
He and Thornton regarded it as a public safety issue as it pertains to sanitation as well.
“These tires are placed in drainage ditches and they are clogging up sewer systems. So when our folks are out picking up 1,200 tires, they can’t fix the potholes on the street and they can’t unclog a sewer failure that is causing sewer backup,” Simmons illustrated. “Those crews should be doing some other things to provide our taxpayers service.”
And, mosquitoes breed inside of the tires, Thornton pointed out — another aspect of public safety that concerns Simmons as it relates to West Nile Virus.
Simmons pointed out a slew of efforts being made around the city on the parts of community groups, faith-based organizations and civic and social groups to clean the city up.
“We want to applaud everybody for doing that, but we do want to make sure that we understand that this is our city and we share that same love for the it,” he added. “Stop dumping furniture and tires in the city and everywhere that you could possibly see debris … When people come into this city to do their shopping for the holiday season, we want them to be proud of this city and right now, in order for that to happen, we must be proud of this city.”