Robert Fyffe has been trying to catch whoever has been dumping tires at the vacant lot next to his mother’s East Toledo home for weeks.
He has set up a camera, and he has called the city for help, so he was thrilled on Wednesday when Toledo officials announced a new task force focused on catching, prosecuting, and deterring illegal dumpers.
“It makes it look real crappy,” Mr. Fyffe said, gesturing to a pile of about 100 tires basking in the sun. “It’s just uncalled for.”
City crews were on site for the task force’s announcement, tossing tires one by one into a garbage truck pulled up to the lot in the 400 block of Oak Street as neighbors watched. The Lucas County Land Bank bought the abandoned home that used to sit on the lot in question and discovered it was filled with tires when crews began to tear it down.
“The land bank crew and the city of Toledo had to remove those tires,” said Councilman Peter Ujvagi, who lives in East Toledo. “They tore the house down but couldn’t complete the work because of the additional tires that have been dumped here and have continuously been dumped here.”
Michell Reynolds, who works as a home health aide in the neighborhood, said she was glad to see the tires picked up but hoped the city’s efforts don’t stop there.
“Are they going to be doing this for all of the alleys? Or are they just coming out here? This is not the only alley I’ve seen that’s had this issue,” she said. “I work on all sides [of Toledo] and I see it everywhere. People just use alleys like garbage.”
Deputy police Chief Mike Troendle said the task force will have officers assigned on a daily basis to look for illegal dumping, whether that’s in alleys, vacant lots, or abandoned homes. They’ll then work with Toledo Municipal Court Judge Joseph Howe and prosecutor Chris Lawrence to process each case.
Illegal dumping is a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 to $1,000 fine or 10 to 15 days in jail.
“That way we can track the case and we don’t have to run through multiple courtrooms, multiple prosecutors,” Chief Troendle said. “The hope is that we can start following through with this and actually do some good prosecutions and put a dent in this type of behavior.”
The officers will work across the city, but Chief Troendle said they’re studying reports of illegal dumping and known dump sites to find what he called “hot spots” to tackle first. But combating illegal dumping is going to take the community’s help, too.
“The reality is this: Us actually catching them in the act is probably slim to none,” he said. “However, if somebody in the neighborhood sees somebody dumping and they can get us that information, that will help us with a lead to follow up on and we can actually track them down to prosecute.”
Illegal dumping has been a thorn in the side of city officials for years. Councilmen Yvonne Harper, Larry Sykes, and Tyrone Riley have been vocal about the debris, furniture, and tires often found strewn in alleys or grassy lots.
So far this year city crews have cleared 1.3 million pounds of debris and 3,337 tires from Toledo’s alleys. Officials will assess about $1.2 million in taxes on properties along alleys this year to cover 2017’s alley cleaning costs, city spokesman Ignazio Messina said.
“I think it’s terrible and disgraceful the way people are dumping garbage, tires, debris, what have you, on private property, and they feel like they can do it and not have any consequences,” Mr. Riley said. “We’re trying to do a better job of keeping the alleys clean, but we’re a long way from where we need to be in terms of restoring the alleys to the condition they need to be.”
Mr. Ujvagi encouraged Toledoans to call the city’s Engage Toledo line at 419-936-2020 or their council representative at 419-245-1050 to report illegal dumping.
The city also offers 12 recycling events annually, which allow residents to discard tires and other debris properly. The Hoffman Road Landfill also accepts tires, for a $3 disposal fee per tire.
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