New garbage containers are on display at Indian Rocks Beach’s Commission meeting. The smaller one will be used in the city while the larger ones are an example of what many other cities use.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – City commissioners unanimously approved the introduction of a new waste collection in the city Jan. 8. Supporters and critics alike call the new system one of the biggest changes ever in Indian Rocks Beach.
The new system involves every homeowner getting a uniform garbage can, either a 48-gallon can or a 64-gallon can, which will be brought to the curb and picked up by a semi-automated system. The workers will be able to hook the can onto a device located on the rear of the garbage truck. It will then pick it up and dump it. In fact wear and tear on the employees is one of the reasons why the new system was introduced.
“My employees would be embarrassed to hear that we are here trying to save them,” said Calvin Warren, supervisor of Solid Waste. “But right now one of our long time employees is recovering from back surgery, which I am convinced was necessary because he repeatedly had to lift and dump garbage cans.”
City Manager Chuck Coward said in addition to the health issues, there were also liability issues involved in the employees having to go into people’s backyards to pick up their trash and carry it out to the truck. That practice, except for a handful of people incapable of bringing their new can out to the curb, will end. Warren remarked that perhaps only 1 percent of communities in Florida still collect garbage that way.
The new cans, which will be purchased by the city at a cost of $200,000, are on wheels and have an attached lid. Among other things the lid will help keep water out and that is a cost-savings benefit.
“We pay by the ton to dump out garbage,” said Warren. “When water gets into a garbage container it can increase the weight threefold.”
The city also hopes the lids will cut down on the odor and prevent rats from getting into the garbage as they do now. That prompted Scott Shapiro to ask, “So what are we going to do about the rats? If they can’t get into the garbage they are going to be hungry and even angrier than they are now.”
The most passionate critic of the plan was resident James Mills. He didn’t like the idea of the new garbage cans.
“They are too big for me to store where I store the one I have now,” he said. “Where am I going to put it, out back on my patio and invite visitors to admire my new garbage can? This is a huge thing and it affects every homeowner.”
Coward said the new plan will help decrease the cost to homeowners and keep costs down for the city.
“This is all part of keeping our own service rather than contracting out to one of the big garbage haulers,” he said. “Right now our garbage is being picked up by our own people, rather than having a company come in here with people you don’t know working for them in and around your property.”
Coward said the $29 a month homeowners paid for garbage collection has been lowered to $25 and he hopes eventually to get it down to $19.
Commissioners approved the plan, which will get under way as soon as the new containers are ordered and delivered.
Community Garden given go-ahead
Commissioners agreed to the rules and regulations for the proposed Community Garden and gave the city manager the go-ahead to move forward with the project.
The Community Garden, based on the grow-box garden operating in Indian Shores, will be established on a plot of land in the Nature Preserve on Gulf Boulevard. In fact the rules and regulations approved by the commissioners are the same as those in force in Indian Shores.
“I saw no reason to re-invent the wheel,” said City Manager Chuck Coward. “They have a successful operation in Indian Shores so our plan is more than loosely based on theirs.”
There are 100 grow-boxes in Indian Shores; Indian Rocks Beach will have half that. When completed residents can purchase a box and grow what they wish.
Vice-Mayor Terry Hamilton-Wollin who had seen the operation in Indian Shores and was impressed, promoted the plan. At the urging of other commissioners, Hamilton-Wollin solicited $6,000 from the Action 2000 Community group to get the garden off the ground. Coward says he hopes the garden will be up and running by April 1. A volunteer coordinator will run it.
New appointees to city boards
Four new appointments have been made to city boards, three of them to the Planning and Zoning Board. Bob Clark, Bill Dotson and Richard Antepenko were appointed to the board. Clark becomes a regular board member, the others are alternates. They can engage in discussion at board meetings but cannot vote except in the absence of a regular board member.
Appointed to the Finance and Budget Review Board was Melissa Dotson, who becomes a regular board member. She is the wife of the aforementioned Bill Dotson.
Late mayor honored
Commissioners decided to plant a tree and dedicate it to the late Col. Jim Driscoll, a former mayor of Indian Rocks Beach who died just before Christmas. Driscoll served two terms as mayor of the city from 1990 to 1994.
Commissioner Cookie Kennedy told the commission that she felt they should do something special in his memory. Commissioner Hamilton-Wollin recalled how six years ago, Driscoll approached her and asked her to run for the commission.
“I told him I was already on just about every committee in town,” she said. “But he replied it isn’t about that, it is about good government. And I hope I haven’t let him down.”
She recalled the last time she saw him.
“It was during the Santa Claus parade,” she said. “We came around a corner and there he was sitting out front blowing kisses to everybody. He was a regular guy, a man of peace. He loved his city and he loved his country.”
Mayor R.B. Johnson added, “He gave a lot to this city, all the time.”
There will be a memorial service for Driscoll at Calvary Episcopal Church in Indian Rocks Beach at 10 a.m. on Jan. 12.