Dumpster diving

Pictured is a dumpster located at the Titusville Wastewater Treatment Plant. Titusville officials are working on a plan to determine what is and is not acceptable for disposal at the site.

City of Titusville officials have a conundrum on their plate — how to continue to provide a location for city residents to get rid of brush without creating what is becoming an environmental disaster.

Monday’s City Council meeting was not the first time the dumpster located at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. The discussion on Monday led to some direction of what city officials would like to see happen at the site.

Council Member Jason Witosky brought up the topic, relaying a telephone call he received from a city resident the previous weekend. Witosky said the resident wanted to know what could be disposed of in the dumpster.

“The citizen was under the assumption that they could take refuse down there,” Witosky said. The citizen told Witosky that on an occasion that refuse was taken there, a city official “got firm” with him and involved local law enforcement in the situation. “An investigation found nothing,” Witosky said.

Witosky suggested the city should make an official posting at any location that clearly defines what is and is not permitted. “It would make things easier for city employees and city residents,” he said.

Mayor Dennis Peden added his recent personal observations at the site. Peden said he took brush to the site the previous weekend to add to a pile “clearly marked brush.”

Just behind the brush pile, Peden saw more than brush. “Someone tore a deck off their house and left the deck there, stairs and all,” he said.

As Peden rounded the corner to the location of the dumpster, he noted it was about “99% full.” He took pictures to share with each council member.

Peden then took Council Member Roger Gordon to the site on Monday. The pair found the dumpster was more than full. Peden saw items including interior doors, clothing and residential garbage in the dumpster. He also noted that a bag in the dumpster contained “fish guts and pieces of fish.”

“A city employee pulled in while Roger and I were there,” Peden said. “We asked the employee what the dumpster was supposed to be used for.” The employee told them it was supposed to be used when city employees open a bag of leaves, to put the bag in.

Peden said he agreed with Witosky that a standard rule of thumb as to what can be taken to the dumpster and when it can be taken needs to be established. He did not agree that signs would correct the issue.

“These people are going to dump whatever they want,” Peden said, adding that it wasn’t just city residents using the site. “They’re coming in at night. The gates are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no supervision.”

“I believe we need a structure to monitor who goes in and out, whether it be with cameras. Have it open only during normal business hours or have an employee work at the facility,” Peden said.

“Just because 1% or less is ruining the opportunity (to dump approved material) for everyone, I don’t want to go back like the last administration did and because one or two people did something wrong they shut everything down,” Peden said.

Peden said he believes the site is a good place for people to get rid of brush with the possibility of taking building material that can burn. “That needs to be established,” he said.

As the discussion wound to a close, Peden and council agreed that they want to see the city manager and public works director come up with a plan. That plan may include closing the gates to the treatment plant after employees leave for the day, Peden said.

Council Member William McCrillis suggested the city go back to allowing just brush to be accepted at the site.


Drumm can be reached by email at ldrumm@titusvilleherald.com.

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