St. Landry works to solve roadside trash problem

The St. Landry Parish Solid Waste Commission voted unanimously at a special meeting Tuesday to create a multi-agency task force to help solve residential waste collection problems in unincorporated areas of the parish.

Members of the task force include representatives from the Parish Council, Sheriff’s Office and the commission. They will study ways to settle garbage collection issues for residents who live on private roads or in rural subdivisions.

No specific deadline was established for the task force to report back to the commission.

Commission road inspector Velton Stelly said Progressive Waste Solutions, which is contracted by the commission to provide residential and commercial garbage collection in St. Landry Parish, will not send its trucks down private roads.

Stelly said the company will pick up garbage from individuals living on private roads if trash cans are placed on nearby public roads on collection days.

Problem occurs when people bring their trash cans to a public road for garbage pickup and leave them throughout the week, Stelly said.

“Those cans fill up with garbage during the week and it overflows,” he said. “It then creates a public litter problem. Residents who live along the public roadways are complaining because garbage near their homes is all over the place.”

Stelly said in some places, the problem of garbage on the roadside has become critical. There are about 25 locations parishwide in which garbage is piled along public roadways, waiting to be collected, he said.

An ordinance mandates that garbage cans brought to public roadways for collection must be removed within 24 hours following pickup, Stelly said.

Garbage pickup occurs weekly in the rural areas of St. Landry Parish. Collection is performed twice weekly in the municipal areas, Stelly said.

The commission gives parish government $175,000 each year to assist with litter abatement problems, according to Katry Martin, executive director of the St. Landry Parish Landfill located in the Beggs community, between Washington and LeBeau.

Martin said that another $40,000 was sent to parish government this year in order to provide additional assistance for litter abatement.

Stelly said the commission and Sheriff’s Office have tried to help with better ordinance enforcement, but that effort hasn’t always proven effective.

Martin told the commission that one way of solving the matter is to have residents living on the private, rural roads agree to let parish government make improvements, and then eventually incorporate the private roads once they have met parish standards.

Stelly said some residents want their roads to remain private, no matter how serious the garbage problem becomes.

Parish Council Chairman Leon Robinson, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said that some roads are in such bad condition that garbage trucks will have difficulty making collections even when they are granted permission to do so.

Commission Attorney Chad Pitre said another way of improving the problem is to have residents grant permission for the trucks to travel down their private roads to pick up trash.

Commissioner Gardie McManus questioned why some of the litter abatement funding sent to parish government is used for grass cutting on private property.

McManus said he can name 50 properties inside Eunice that are having grass mowed by parish government.

Parish President Bill Fontenot said the properties where grass is being cut have been seized by parish government for nonpayment of property taxes.

“These are what we call adjudicated properties where trash is collecting while the grass is growing,” Fontenot said. “Parish government feels the mowing is necessary to discourage having trash collect on these properties.”