Trash again dominates Fort Smith Board agenda

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 98 views 

The City of Fort Smith Board of Directors may have offered a new town hall forum and reintroduced live telecasts at Tuesday night’s regular meeting (May 1), but during the formal portion, the discussion centered on more of the same: manual trash collection versus automated.

The board voted 4-3 to suspend the reading of the rules and require citizens living with alley rights-of-way to remove emptied garbage cans, recycle containers, and uncollected material exceeding collection standards by midnight on the day of collection. Citizens in these areas would also not be allowed to set out the containers and materials before noon the day prior to collection.

Fort Smith Municipal Code Section 25-268(b) now allows an exception for those living with alley rights-of-way.

Unfortunately, for those looking for a final solution to this issue, five votes were required to suspend the second and third reading of the rules. Therefore, the board will revisit the matter at the May 15 meeting.

At the previous Tuesday study session (April 24), Fort Smith Department of Sanitation Director Baridi Nkokheli revealed the dispute between supporters of the two forms of collection has already cost the city $38,000. On Tuesday night, Vice-Mayor Kevin Settle indicated that a new round of surveys, “which went out last week,” have added another $15,000 to the bill.

The requested code revision spawned from this debate at the same study session, and was originally recommended by Settle.

Settle and City Director Andre Good continued to voice their support for the revision and for automated collection in general. They were joined by directors Don Hutchings and Pam Weber, with Directors Philip Merry, Steve Tyler, and George Catsavis, dissenting.

David Harris, speaking against the revision and automated collection for the Park Hill neighborhood, told city directors he’d driven the area following Nkokheli’s presentation, which revealed tipped over containers and rampant litter, and that there was “only one spot with crud, but the rest of the areas were clean.”

John McIntosh agreed and added, “This ordinance feels like a step in the wrong direction to many of my neighbors.”

Rosemary Wingfield told City Directors, “I think this move is retaliation for Park Hill East (refusing automated collection). Another ordinance that will not be enforced is not to our benefit.”

City Director Good denied “retaliation” and reminded the supporters “this ordinance touches many more neighborhoods, and is much bigger than just Park Hill.”

Settle compared the debate to Apple and the introduction of the iPhone.

“Apple introduced a paradigm shift, and we have adapted as a society. Other companies have adapted to changes as needed, and now make their products differently. There’s been a paradigm shift with the way we think about sanitation. We as a community have to adapt to change, or we can stand still and eventually die,” Settle said.

Also Tuesday night, the board voted 6-1 in favor of rezoning the vacant property at 10103 Highway 45 South for the purposes of allowing a “dance hall or nightclub business” at the location, as described on the application filed with the city.

Applicant Luis Alvarez made the request for the building, which “formerly housed the Red Roper and a couple of youth dance halls,” Fort Smith Planning and Zoning Director Wally Bailey told board members. The one dissenting vote came from city director Don Hutchings.

“I just feel like we have enough business establishments like that in our area,” Hutchings told The City Wire when asked after the meeting why he was the lone “no” vote.

Finally, the Board voted unanimously to rename the Anniversary Rose Garden the Mayor Ray Baker Rose Garden. Baker helped establish the Rose Garden in 1998.

An emotional Settle weighed in. “How fitting that our late mayor, who loved to put rose petals out, will have a garden named after him. I think it’s only fitting that this will represent his memory moving forward.”