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JULY 01 - JULY 09, 2014

Garbage Plan is Set, City Forging Ahead for Aug 1 Deadline Without Regard to the People's Protests

By Frank Parlato

July 01, 2014

Tote sizes reversed. The larger one is for recycling, the small one is for refuse.

The plan is final.

Starting Aug 1, Niagara Falls will be an experimental city. The first in the nation to have larger recycling totes than refuse totes.

On Aug 1, residents will be provided with one 64-gallon tote for refuse disposal and one 96-gallon tote for recycling.

This is the opposite of all other communities, which, of course, have larger refuse than recycling totes.

Besides having small refuse totes, there will be no way for residents to dispose of garbage other than what they can stuff inside their 64-gallon tote each week-unless they get rid of it in an alley or vacant lot, or pay for a dumpster.

The plastic chair could be recycled. But come Aug 1 only one bulk item can be thrown out per month. The two parts of the bed, mattress and box spring, will require two months to dispose of. Additionally, this resident will not be able to throw out this much in August since it won’t fit in a single 64-gallon tote. To have cut service so drastically, and rolled this plan out without advanced planning and public relations was a mistake and may come back to haunt Mayor Paul Dyster.

Ever since the Niagara Falls Reporter revealed details of this plan - created by Mayor Paul Dyster and his city administrator, Donna Owens, - a plan which includes eliminating curbside trash pickup for hundreds of small businesses who now enjoy service - and the elimination of grass and leaf pickup (outside what can be fit in the single 64-gallon tote) - there has been public outrage.

It has become apparent that Dyster wanted the real impact of the plan - which is a drastic reduction in the amount of garbage service residents will receive - to be kept secret until it was rolled out in August.

Typical scene in Niagara Falls. How much could be recycled is not known. It is clear that most are throwing out more than what will fit in the 64-gallon tote that will be allowed.

After the Reporter exposed details of the plan, which is basically that residents will switch from unlimited refuse disposal (which they now enjoy) to one 64-gallon tote per week, Dyster was quoted as saying his consultants advised him to let the "bomb drop" when it was rolled out, rather than try to explain it in advance.

He got the council to approve the plan without really explaining it, casting it in terms of money savings, which is likely to be false, and greater recycling, which may be true.

Dyster never mentioned the drastic cut in services. There were no public hearings. No involving the community, no seeking of opinions, asking the people who pay for it, what they need, what they want, in advance of the plan.

Now, because it was exposed early, Dyster and Owens are doing a lot of public meetings to react to the public outrage and try to defend their plan. Some members of the council are also joining in trying to take some of the brunt of the outrage.

Unless the plan changes , yard waste thrown out lik e this will not be picked up .

Chairman Charles Walker, normally a supporter of the mayor, said "this plan is not what we were told it was going to be."

The funny part is, despite the cynical rollout, there are some things which are good about the plan.

Presently Niagara Falls is the lowest recycling city in the region, recycling only four percent of the garbage at the curb.

The best town locally is Amherst, at 28 percent, seven times better than Niagara Falls.

Most communities recycle about triple the rate of Niagara Falls.

The Dyster-Owens plan, if successful, could take Niagara Falls from lowest to highest, mainly by not allowing people to throw out enough garbage each week, forcing some to recycle.

Presently, Niagara Falls residents can throw out unlimited refuse at the curb. Come August 1, they can throw only what fits in the smaller tote.

Niagara Falls could hit 30 percent.

As Councilman Andrew Touma said, "Why can't Niagara Falls be first? Why not the best? I think it is attainable."

The Dyster-Owens plan could be characterized as boot camp for an out-of-shape recycling community. The plan - by its flip-flopping the sizes of totes - will encourage and in some cases force people to recycle.

The fact that recycling totes are large and refuse totes are small might get people to think totes for recycling should be larger, if we care about the planet our children will inherit.

Everywhere, especially in Niagara Falls there is plenty that could be recycled that is being dumped in landfills, ever growing mountains of

garbage that will lie buried for a thousand years, or burned in incinerators which pollute our air which vulnerable children breathe and get ill from.

Recycled items have a chance at a second life and that reuse will save an equal amount from the precious resources of earth.

In a world of seven billion, the future of garbage is recycling.

When people here see how little they can throw away in a 64-gallon tote, come Aug 1, this city is going to start thinking a lot about recycling.



How much trash will fit inside the 64-gallon totes? Residents will find out come Aug 1.

But, the real issue is that a drastic change in service deserved a forthright, upfront explanation, not a reactive one prompted by a newspaper explaining the consequences of the plan.

Thanks to Touma and Walker, the public is being given some assurances that, if the plan turns out to be unworkable, it will be changed. Touma has already promised that yard waste will be picked up and that some of the hundreds of businesses that were told they were excluded may not lose their trash service after all.

Still it is characteristic of Dyster and his lack of transparency that it was only after the Reporter revealed that some 500 businesses would lose service that his administration sent out a one paragraph, unsigned letter that said "starting in August, the city will no longer provide curbside trash service. Please make other arrangements."

If the plan works, it will be because of the people, the ones who will pay for it and who were shown almost no respect by the mayor or Owens.





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Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina