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Does Arlington Have a Littering Problem?

One resident recently told the Board of Selectmen that it does. What do you think? Let us know by posting a comment below.

Last week, Arlington resident Maya Ginns told the Board of Selectmen that she’s concerned and frustrated with the amount of litter she sees around town.

Ginns said she had previously reached out to Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine and the town’s Department of Public Works. “I do not feel that enough has been done to address what I see as a growing problem,” she wrote in a letter to the board.

At the meeting, she said she was particularly concerned with the litter she sees on Highland Avenue and the Minuteman bike path during her morning runs, as well as the loose trash at bus stops and in front of businesses.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine told her it’s really all about the town’s limited resources. Board chairman Kevin Greeley added that it doesn’t make sense to put out more trash cans, for instance, if the town doesn’t have the money to pay personnel to empty them. And Selectman Steven Byrne noted, “At a certain point, it comes down to personal responsibility.”

In her letter to the board, Ginns laid out five “possible interventions” the town could take:

1. Increase in the number of trashcans in town.

2. A more systematic and perhaps a more frequent approach to street cleaning.

3. Holding businesses in town more accountable for keeping their outside area free of litter.

4. Making volunteer efforts to keep the town clean more transparent (such as listing on the town website) so that others can participate.

5. Enlisting Arlington High School students to help in some of these efforts as part of their community service requirement.

Do you think Arlington has a littering problem? Are you concerned and frustrated with the amount of litter you see around town? If so, can you think of any possible interventions? Let us know by posting a comment below.

Stephen February 05, 2013 at 01:30 PM
Does Arlington have a littering problem? IMHO, no, not really. Sure sometimes litter appears, but it is intermittent and not persistent. For example, last week during the heavy winds, it was trash pickup day and all up and down Jason street, the trash cans were knocked over and there was trash everywhere. A few days later, nothing. Same thing for parks during the summer. Sure after a weekend of games, you'll see trash on the ground and barrels overflowing, but again, within a reasonable time, most of the trash is gone. As for the bikepath, there is very few places with a lot of litter. Certainly nothing that one large trash bag couldn't take care of. Instead of the town placing more barrels along business districts, concerned citizens should work with the local Chamber of Commerce and ask businesses to sponsor trash receptacles, especially in the outdoor seating areas which are expected to increase. Businesses have an incentive to create a clean, inviting place for patrons. One problem I do see is that the trash hauler, JRM, does contribute to littering. Frequently, during trash pickup, items will fall from barrels or out of the back of the truck. Too often, the sanitation engineers will not pick this up, contributing to street trash. Finally, owners who fail to pick up after Fido is more disturbing, to me, than litter. You step on a Dunkin Donuts cup, no big deal, but if your kid steps in $@it, that can ruin your whole day.
Andrew W. February 05, 2013 at 01:36 PM
6. Less wind.
Andrew W. February 05, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Aw, Stephen beat me to it. For JRM, kinda agree. They've gotten better in the last few months about not leaving trash cans in the street up against the curb, but it stunk to find out my retiree neighbors had to pull trash cans out of the street.
Tim February 05, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Arlington Has More PROBLEMS than JUST TRASH!!!
Julie February 05, 2013 at 02:49 PM
I very much agree that Arlington has a litter problem. I see a lot of litter at the bus stop where I wait for the bus on Appleton/Mass Ave which to me is especially sad as it's a site commemorating a Congressional Medal of Honor Veteran. I see a lot of litter on the Minute Man trail (especially near Trader Joes), on Arlington's streets, on my own street ironically after JRM carelessly picks up the trash and let's trash blow all over the street. I also agree that there needs to be more street cleaning. Are you telling me the city can only afford to clean my street once a year? That's absolutely ridiculous. While Tim the commenter is right that there are more important problems than litter, letting a town look run down with litter and vandalism and graffiti is an invitation to crime and will bring down home sales. I would very much be interested in volunteering to pick up litter, but I think it's our town's responsibility to do a better job keeping our town clean especially since we pay a lot in taxes for these services.
Steve February 05, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Yes, Arlington has a litter problem. Probably no worse than nearby towns. For such a beautiful town, with lovely architecture, parks, trees, there is a surprising amount of trash on the lawns, streets and sidewalks. I often find coffee cups; snack food wrappers and other assorted trash on my lawn. Pick it up and --- next day --- there is more. While most Arlington dog owners are responsible, there certainly are those who are not. The evidence is ---- well let's just say the evidence is evident. Check your shoes. The town would be even nicer if individuals took more responsible [hello --- pick up your own trash]; and a bit more enforcement might have an impact.
Brian February 05, 2013 at 03:20 PM
There is a trash problem within a 50 yard radius of every convenience store in Arlington. Mostly losing lottery tickets and candy wrappers. I've watched the owner of Easy Convenience blow trash from his parking lost into Mass Ave on numerous occasions. Just lazy and disrespectful.
Tim February 05, 2013 at 03:29 PM
I agree with you trash is a huge problem... JRM employees are slobs...
Mary May February 05, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Actually, the question is not Does Arlington have a littering problem? It clearly does. The question really is Do you care? I certainly do. I cannot understand why so much trash lies in the gutters, in front of stores, in parking lots. Mass Ave and the center, especially around Starbucks, is a mess. Arlington offers many advantages: diversity, friendly people, location with respect to Cambridge and Boston, public transportation. But the litter in this town is a like a blight on an otherwise mainly positive scene. I cannot understand why Arlington does so little (anything?) to address this growing issue. Why do the residents tolerate this very obvious problem?
Risa Dubin February 05, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Arlington DOES have a litter problem!! This is especially evident around Mass Ave and Lockeland Ave. The parking lot behind Lady Siam and the stores at the corner is an embarrassment. Caring about keeping our town clean would help make it a beautiful place to live......no money is needed to do this. Simply hold on to your trash until you are near a garbage can!!! Lisa
Amy February 05, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Yes. When we first moved here from another state, my 4 year old asked "why is there so much trash every where?". And, I agree with her, there was litter every where we looked. It makes everything look terrible and run down.
Duds February 05, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Litter is by far the most critical issue facing our beloved Town...if not our Nation. Of course, global terrorism, disease and starvation are pesky issues..but...have you SEEN the cigarette butts outside of the convenience stores???..LIFE ALTERING!
MS February 05, 2013 at 07:19 PM
I am constantly amazed at how much trash is in my yard, on my sidewalk, and next to the curb near my house (on a residential street). On many occasions, not just on trash day, I find half-drunk bottles and cans of beer, all sorts of fast food wrappers, newspapers, and food containers, among other things. I don't even live near a business! I think people throw things out their car windows as they drive by. I don't think it would take too many tickets issued to the perpetrators of littering for word to get out that litter belongs in a bin, not in residents' yards. And while we're on the topic of trash, I find that the JRM people are incredibly disrespectful of our trash bins. They don't even put them back on the sidewalk when they have emptied them, they strew the lids everywhere, and they smash things with the bins. Since the town changed over, I've had to go traipsing in my neighbours's yards (sometimes a few houses down) to retrieve my now broken bins. This never happened with the previous waste management company.
Susan Ruderman February 05, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Let's strategize about remedies instead of trivializing valid concerns. Kudos to Ms. Ginns for pursuing this issue. As a 22-year resident of Arlington, I can say that the town looks more "littered" now than it has in recent years. I'm sure an agency like MMA or the like has some recommended ratio of public trash cans per resident or per commercial block, etc. Not being an urban planner, I don't know what that recommended number is, but I wonder whether Arlington is perhaps below the norm. Other towns have less of a litter problem. What are they doing right? And claiming that there is no point in having more trash receptacles if the Town "can't afford" to empty them is just short-sighted and dismissive. It's "personal responsibility" to dispose of that empty coffee cup in the proper manner, but it is government responsibility to provide appropriate public facilities for doing so and encouraging compliance and issuing deterrents for non-compliance...
inthegloaming February 05, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Aw, cute sarcasm making fun of people's concerns about the quality of where they live everyday. Those other HUGE issues? We're not ignoring them, but we can't actually do much about personally, except perhaps donate. For all you know the litter complainers do donate. I certainly do. Meanwhile, we try to do what we can in our own backyards to keep quality of life from becoming Third Worldville. My suggested cure? Ban the teenagers that dump their snack debris as they walk home from school. Send them to Tokyo.
inthegloaming February 05, 2013 at 08:36 PM
Personal responsibility? Yeh, those of us who clean up after everyone else who doesn't have it, have it. Every day lately there's something new and unwanted in my yard, in front of my house. The teens walk home from school and I've watched them just dump their cans/packaging. When I tell them "Hey, dump that on YOUR front steps" I get the middle finger. Nice job, parents. I miss the days when Arlington had more retired seniors than self-involved spoiled brats.
Wind Dummy 25 February 05, 2013 at 10:28 PM
How much extra do you want to pay in taxes for something that should be done daily responsibly and individually? Public works can do only so much on town ground. PW is always first to be trimmed so we can afford schools kids that reward us with trash. Can you teach that? Probably not... If your a slob parent you have slob kids. See it everyday.
Zoltan February 05, 2013 at 11:14 PM
The worst I ever get is kids using chalk to draw on the street near my house. JRM Hauling has been a disappointment since they flipped a truck on their first week in Arlington. They completely missed a Friday pickup and had to come out on Saturday and decided to fling everyone's barrels 10 feet onto their lawns as if they were pissed-off about having to do their jobs.
Zoltan February 05, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Since the town is so strapped for cash and is either unwilling or unable to enforce the existing littering laws the only other options are: 4. Making volunteer efforts to keep the town clean more transparent (such as listing on the town website) so that others can participate. 5. Enlisting Arlington High School students to help in some of these efforts as part of their community service requirement.
Misty February 05, 2013 at 11:58 PM
There is so much trash everywhere in town! And all the comments about JRM are right on! They leave trash in the barrels and toss them from the middle of the street. They don't even pull over for cars to pass. Want to make a few bucks? There are beer cans among the trash along the Rte 2 side of Spy Pond...oh wait a minute, that is a state highway....
Tim February 06, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Zoltan , JRM is one of the worst outfits out there. I have personally dealt with the owner in the past when I bought a building in downtown Boston and he had the contract with the pervious owners and all I can say is I removed him as soon as I could .... Yeah his employees here in Town act like they are doing us a favor by taming our trash . Wonder what the nice gifts were this time ??
mike camm February 06, 2013 at 12:52 AM
Well said Julie ! The town is a mess and it's getting worse. No one in our Town Governemnt seems to care. They use the excuse of not enough resources..L.O.L. If they enforce the littering laws on the people that trash the streets that would help somewhat. If they held the Business owners accountable for keeping their store fronts clean that would help. There are plenty of Public Works employees that could be kept BUSY by doing trash pick up.That would help a lot. We need trash cans around the town and they should be maintained on a regular basis..If we enforce the off leash laws and the people that do not pick up after Fido that would help. Please start with the Stratton school playground. Why is Woburn, Winchester, Burlington and Lexington kept cleaner than Arlington? What are those towns doing RIGHT ???? I've lived in Arlington for sixty years and it's a shame that it's getting dumpier every year. Someone please convince my wife that we need to sell.
mike camm February 06, 2013 at 02:31 AM
If the Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine and the town’s Department of Public Works would like to place me on the payroll I would be glad to monitor the towns trash problem and act accordinly in writing citations and making reports. I take pride in my work. MC
mike camm February 06, 2013 at 02:51 AM
Susan I agree and applaud Ms Ginns for addressing this long time problem. I've been a resident of Arlington for 60 years and the problem is worse then ever. Take a walk thru the Center and you'll see what I mean. Just be carefull where you walk, try to avoid the spit, feces etc.While you are at it take note of the beautiful graffiti in places where people can see it.
Tim February 06, 2013 at 03:14 AM
Mike Camm speaking about the center how about those people outside the methadone clinic who smoke butts all day and just toss them on the street. Bad enough we have this nonsesne of a place in our town center now they throw their butts out on the street ... Imagine a methadone clinic in the middle of Lexington Center ?? That's why Arlington will never compare to Lexington
Jayme P February 16, 2013 at 07:30 PM
Let's face it, Arlington residents pay a lot in taxes and we have a lot more litter on the street than we should. 1. If JRM is such a mess-maker (as everyone seems to agree) the town should either hold them accountable for picking UP trash (um, a trash company littering the streets is ridiculous) or find a better company to do the job. 2. The bike path and those pesky teenagers should be tossing their trash and should be talked to by our bike patrol on the path (or fined) for littering (I would want my kids to learn that lesson) - BUT that means the town has to place trash cans on the bike path to throw out this trash. As if our current taxes can't include the pick up of three more cans on the bike path! 3. If the town isn't holding local businesses accountable to pick up trash (in front of and behind their stores), should volunteer groups really do this for them? Why wouldn't we (meaning the Town and the Chamber of Commerce) make businesses who repeatedly leave a mess just perform their socially responsible duty? This is about a lack of accountability, litter is just a symptom and will only get worse if we don’t deal with it soon.
Hector February 25, 2013 at 05:57 PM
Did Maya Ginns help out and pick some trash up?

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