- Associated Press - Sunday, April 13, 2014

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - When a pair of new solid waste containers was delivered to the Fort Dodge home of Marlys Huebsch earlier this year, she was surprised by their size.

“I thought, my God, that would take care of a whole neighborhood,” she told the Fort Dodge Messenger (https://bit.ly/1quazFU).

Huebsch, who describes herself as a senior citizen who’s barely 5 feet tall, found the 95-gallon containers a bit difficult to move.

‘It’s not the easiest thing in the world,” she said.

Complaints from residents like her who have problems handling the new containers are prompting some City Council members to push for at least a discussion on the possibility of providing smaller ones to some people.

“I have suggested from the get-go that we need to re-evaluate the need for smaller containers,” said Councilman Terry Moehnke. “I can understand that some people have some trouble getting them back and forth. It’s something we need to look at.”

Each of the city’s roughly 8,400 sanitation customers received two of the containers in January as the Public Works Department switched to a new collection method that relies on trucks with mechanical arms to pick up both garbage and recycling materials. The container with the green lid is for garbage. The one with the blue lid that has the words “Recycling Only” stamped on it is for recycling materials.

Each container is 45 inches high, 27 inches wide and 33 inches deep.

In October 2013, the City Council purchased about 16,000 of the containers from Otto Environmental Systems of Charlotte, N.C., for $822,036.98.

City Manager David Fierke said the 95-gallon size was selected because it “gives people the most flexibility.”

“It works for all families,” he said.

Fierke said the containers are big enough for large families that have to get rid of a lot of trash and recycling materials.

He added that when people have told him that they don’t need garbage containers that size, he’s replied that they can drop something bulky in it along with their trash bag instead of waiting for a cleanup day collection to dispose of such items.

The city’s trucks are capable of picking up smaller containers, according to Fierke. But he said other cities have encountered some problems with the smaller ones. He said smaller containers tend to tip over more, and sometimes they fall off the mechanical arms and into the truck. He added that if people try to get rid of more trash than usual, they may pack a smaller container so tightly that it becomes hard to empty it.

Fierke said he has received one complaint about the size of the containers, while the Public Works Department has received 20 complaints.

Mayor Matt Bemrich said he’s had “a lot” of people ask him if they could get smaller ones.

“I’m supportive of looking at smaller cans,” he said, adding that he expects the council will discuss that possibility.

Councilman Don Wilson said he’s received many complaints, especially from senior citizens. He added that he would take a smaller container if one was offered.

“I wish they would give the citizens the option” he said.

Councilman Dean Hill said he’s heard a couple of complaints and added that he believes they are justified.

“I think this is something that should be discussed by the council to see what we can get worked out,” he said.

Hill said he never completely fills his garbage container, and would like to use a smaller one.

Councilman Dave Flattery said he’s received one complaint about the size of the containers.

“For the most part, it’s been all positive comments,” he said.

Flattery added that he doesn’t believe the council will make changes “unless there’s a major public outcry.”

Councilman Kim Alstott said he thinks it’s too early to tinker with a collection system that was launched in February.

“Any time you do something new, any time you make changes, there’s going to be challenges,” he said. “I’d say give it some more time. It’s too new to start jumping in and start changing things.”

Councilman Andy Fritz said he “wouldn’t mind entertaining the option of using smaller containers.”

He said Fort Dodge residents should be good neighbors and help those who have trouble handling the containers.

“An elderly widow living alone can’t have much garbage, so offer to throw her bag in with your own and wheel it out,” he said.


Information from: The Messenger, https://www.messengernews.net

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