WATERVILLE — Christine Thomas loathes looking at the plastic bottles, garbage bags, milk cartons, pizza boxes, broken glass, cans and other trash littered on property to the east of her impeccably kept lawn.

Thomas, of Mystic Street in the city’s North End, says the trash is an eyesore and a safety hazard for children who play on the property — not to mention a pollutant for Hayden Stream, which flows through the debris.

“It’s horrible,” she said. “I want to see it cleaned up. It’s not safe. It’s not sanitary. I’d like to see it picked up and maintained by the people whose trash it is.”

Thomas says she watches as people dump trash on the property beside a Waterville Housing Authority complex on Wilson Street, which turns into Mystic street. Thomas claims some of the trash is dumped by tenants of the complex, but tenants said Monday that the wind blows the trash there. Tenant Brad Pease said Wilson street is situated so that a wind tunnel is created and the wind is so strong, it blows trash around and even bent his aluminum door.

“I’ve had big things blow off,” Pease said. “I put my (recycling) bin at the end of the driveway, and I had to get it in the back yard next to the fence. The wind is that strong.”

Another tenant, Will Henderson, said he has seen the wind blow trash all the way down Wilson Street to the fence that separates the housing complex from the property where the brook is located. He said if anyone were dumping trash in the area, he would see and hear them.

“My recycling bin was all the way in the woods once from the wind,” he said.

The property adjacent to Thomas’ property is a paper street owned by the city. The property next to the fence at the northern end of the housing complex also is a paper street. Paper streets are land that was set aside to be made into a street but were never needed. Much of the adjacent land that is littered with trash is a privately-owned vacant lot.

The duplex houses in the housing authority development on Wilson Street appear to be well-kept and free of litter, but paper and other debris lay against the fence Monday inside the authority property. The most noticeable litter and trash problem is across the fence near the brook.

Diane Townsend, executive director of the Housing Authority, said that every spring, workers go out and pick up litter in the area, but it is a tough area to police. She said the authority tries to be neighborly and help keep the area free of debris and will cooperate with whatever effort is launched to keep it clean.

Tenants of the complex said Monday that they do not think the trash problem is a result of pay-as-you-throw, the city’s collection system which requires people to buy special purple bags for their trash. Townsend said the authority supplies tenants all around the city with purple bags based on their household size and if tenants need more bags, they must purchase them. She noted that no tenants have complained that they do not have enough purple bags.

At least one large bag filled with trash in the gully by the brook was made of clear plastic — not a purple bag issued as part of pay-as-you-throw.

Thomas said she constantly hauls garbage bags from the littered property and places them in purple bags she purchases just to get rid of the unsightly trash.

Mark Turner, the city’s public works director, said certain sites throughout the city serve as illegal dumping grounds — and have for years. The problem is not a result of pay-as-you-throw, he said.

“There are some locations in the city that are chronically targets of waste accumulation,” he said. “This has happened year after year — way before pay-as-you-throw was ever conceived.”

The cemetery on Grove Street, the end of Airport Road and the boat landing in the city’s South End are a few of the places people target for illegal dumping, he said.

“Somebody dropped 30 tires at the end of Airport Road last week,” Turner said. “We had to bring them to Pine Tree Waste.”

He said the city has not yet received the bill for the cost to dispose of the tires.

Such remote dumping sites are frustrating for the city, which ends up collecting and disposing of the trash because it is on city property, according to Turner.

“It’s a phenomenon that occurs in every town,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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