"Our Town Charlottesville" meeting considers trash concerns

“Do you know how embarrassing it is to see liquor bottles … on the street daily?” Johnson says

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City Council hosted the first “Our Town Charlottesville” meeting of the year Thursday, during which Charlottesville residents from different neighborhoods were able to express their concerns to City Council members and city staff.

Charlottesville spokesperson Miriam Dickler said City Council started this meeting series in 2010 to make it easier for people to come to talk to council and staff.

Mike Signer, president of Fifeville’s neighborhood association, said that residents have been taking measures of their own to address the situation. “The Fifeville Neighborhood Association [has] launched a drive to focus on the levels of crime around the West Main ABC store,” he said.

“We go out to folks in their neighborhood so they can talk to us face to face,” Dickler said.

She said councilmembers hope Charlottesville residents will talk to them about their concerns so Council can be sure to address them.

“These are neighborhood meetings,” she said. “Another hope is that people meet people in their neighborhood, make connections and build a little a more of their community.”

Dickler said any number of community concerns can been brought up.

“It could be as simple as a streetlight being out and [not knowing] who to call,” she said. “It could be more complex, such as people who are concerned about having felonies on their record and not being able to find a job and then City Council connecting them through human resources.”

Attendees together represented the neighborhoods Fifeville, Starr Hill, 10th & Page, Orangedale, West Haven and Blue Ridge Commons. Including Council members and City officials, about 60 people were in attendance.

Many Charlottesville residents brought up the abundance of trash on city streets, and emphasized the City’s responsibility to pick it up.

Orangedale resident Dorinda Johnson said she and her neighbors were distressed by the sight of trash littering the sidewalks and street of Prospect Avenue.

“Do you know how embarrassing it is to see liquor bottles, beer bottles [and] blunt wraps on the street daily?” she said.

Jim Tolbert of Neighborhood Development Services said writing citations is not a viable solution because the City can only cite residences for city code violations.

“Not being pretty is not a code violation,” he said.

A Public Works representative said the department is working on more solar trash cans around the city. She said they are looking into BigBellySolar trash cans to hold more waste and hope to deter residents from using the public trash cans for household waste.

Mike Signer, president of Fifeville’s neighborhood association, said residents have been taking measures of their own to address the situation.

“The Fifeville Neighborhood Association [has] launched a drive to focus on the levels of crime around the West Main ABC store,” he said.

He said the store has stopped selling some the cheapest bottles of liquor that often end up as trash on the street.

Another Charlottesville resident identified the underlying issue of the abundance of trash in the area as a growing problem with substance abuse.

“[It] seems to me that all around there is beer and wine, but we have people who are alcoholics, and some of them put the trash out there,” she said. “Where are the rehabilitation places for people who have the disease [of alcoholism]?”

In addition to improved rehabilitation services, the conversation also discussed raising the living wage throughout the city, the growth and influence of student living areas in Charlottesville, and permit parking on city streets.

The next “Our Town Charlottesville” meeting will be held on Oct. 9 at Clark Elementary School.

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