Nov. 15, 2005 Smith Bay residents attending a town meeting called by the V.I. Waste Management Authority Tuesday evening told Solid Waste officials they were not in favor of a total pullout of trash bins in their area.
The Waste Management Authority had announced last month its plans to remove the bins in the East End neighborhood and start a house-to-house collection in Smith Bay.
House-to-house collections had begun Nov. 3, for residents in the flatter areas of the community on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but the authority wanted to get the opinions of the Smith Bay residents before totally removing the bins, said WMA Executive Director May Adams Cornwall.
"This is the model of the new Waste Management Authority," Cornwall told the approximately 30 residents at the meeting in the Apostolic Faith Church building. "We want to meet with you and get your opinions before we make changes."
The bins, which currently are located on private property across from the Smith Bay Center, served as the main trash-collecting site for not only Smith Bay residents, but much of the Annas Retreat and Tabor and Harmony communities, as well.
Cornwall said property owner Hugh Pemberton recently notified the authority of his plans to develop the area and requested that the bins be moved. Pemberton was recently before the Senate Committee of the Whole requesting a zoning change for the area.
Cornwall said the authority plans to scale back on the number of bin sites around the island and move towards house-to-house collections. Sugar Estate residents and a few other community residents on St. Thomas have been receiving the house-to-house collections for some time now, but the island is primarily served by the 26 bin sites around the island, compared to 4 bin sites on St. Croix. St. John has the most trash collection sites with 28 bins island-wide.
Residents raised concerns about Smith Bay's narrow, rugged roads and hilly terrain and asked if it was best suited for house-to-house collections.
"A lot of the roads are narrow and are cul-de-sacs, so it makes it difficult for the equipment," Stella Saunders, WMA communications manager, said.
Saunders told the residents that the authority had recently purchased two smaller garbage trucks to use in their areas. The trucks should arrive in eight weeks.
"We realize that there are limitations," Cornwall said, adding that the authority planned to do a combination of house-to-house and bin sites. "Our goal is to improve the aesthetics of the area."
Residents asked if smaller bins could not be placed throughout different areas in the communities rather than the house-to-house pickups.
"Those Dumpsters are not just used by Smith Bay residents," said Anise Hodge, Smith Bay resident, also noting their necessity for those who lived in the hillsides of Smith Bay.
One resident, who lived on a hill in Smith Bay, asked if he could bring his trash closer to the main road for pick-up.
"That is something we want to avoid," Cornwall said, urging residents to not place their trash next to someone else's property or on the main roads. "If you can't get a pick up take it to the nearest bin site or the landfill."
Cornwall said if the authority could find a better location for the bins, they would relocate them. She asked for suggestions from the audience and whether any property owners were willing to donate part of their land. No one volunteered, but residents asked if the bins could not be placed at former sites near the ball field or the now-closed Grand Beach Palace Resort. Cornwall said she would look into a site near the hotel, especially now that it was closed.
Janet Gross, Smith Bay resident, said she did not mind the house-to-house pick up but she lived on one of the hilly areas of Smith Bay. Gross said the road is accessible but it is filled with potholes and dangerous when wet.
"Public Works must step in and fix some of these roads if you are to get to these areas," Gross said.
Cornwall said this was true, but a homeowner's association along with her agency would be more effective at getting the roads repaired than WMA alone. She urged the residents to form a homeowner's association, which they pledged to do by the end of the meeting.
The group also decided to meet with the authority again on Nov. 29 to determine the success of the house-to-house collection and whether they should move the bins to another location rather than removing them entirely. Residents also completed surveys about their current solid waste disposal methods for the authority.
Cornwall said she hopes to reach a larger segment of the affected community at the next meeting.
"This is just a splice of the community," she said of the group, which only represented residents from Frydendahl, Emerald Hill and the Point Pleasant area. Smith Bay covers the Cassi Hill area all the way to Sapphire Beach Hotel. Residents from other areas who use the Smith Bay bins were also absent from the meeting.
Cornwall said these residents would have to find an alternate bin site to place their trash once the Smith Bay bins are removed.
She added, "They must be removed from the current site because the landowner has requested it."
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