‘Down a route’: Waste Management acknowledges to yard waste pickup problems

Westside homeowner said her yard waste ‘just sits’

Jacksonville’s garbage woes appear to be on a decline -- but there are still problems in some areas of town.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville’s garbage woes appear to be on a decline -- but there are still problems in some areas of town.

On Thursday, the city council got an update on the trash troubles from the three private haulers in Jacksonville, They also got an earful from some homeowners about potential problems coming to their area.

During a special city council committee meeting where some members are looking into our trash problems, News4JAX learned that recycling is going well, but there are still problems with yard waste.

Chelsea Vanderworken, who lives on the westside, said it takes weeks for her yard waste to be picked up from her yard.

“It sits... it just sits,” Vanderworken said. “It takes weeks for them to come out here and pick it up. I would like it gone. Either that or we’re going to have a big block party with a bonfire. I mean it needs to go somewhere.”

The council heard from all three private haulers at the council meeting including Waste Management which has the westside contract. Bill Stubblebine of Waste Management admits they are having problems with yard waste pickup.

Related: Jacksonville homeowners pushing back on location of proposed waste transfer station meant to curb trash complaints

“We are down a yard waste route,” Stubblebine said. “We have six drivers we brought in from surrounding markets we have enough people hired but they’re still in the training process.”

It could take a month or more for them to get fully staffed.

Yard waste wasn’t the only concern. Speculative plans to build a waste transfer station near Greenland Road on the southside drew several residents to the meeting.

Ashley Reed and others said if a transfer station is built near homes that it would be a huge health concern and would be like having a dump nearby.

“This isn’t about our neighborhood it’s any neighborhood in Jacksonville it’s not appropriate to be near people,” Reed said.

City leaders and Waste Pro -- which could operate the site if it was built -- said there are no plans in the works right now, but there might be later this summer.

I-TEAM: As recycling resumes, some say they’ve been waiting weeks for yard waste collection

Council members also heard from the Beaches Mayors. Homeowners at the beach pay their own separate garbage fee for trash pickup -- just like homeowners in Jacksonville do now.

There is talk of doing away with that fee in Jacksonville and taking the money to pay for garbage pickup from the general fund. That money is shared by the entire county.

Neptune Beach Mayor Elaine Brown said it would be very unfair to beach homeowners who would still pay a garbage fee.

“That is double taxation no matter what you say. It’s a way of looking at us that we are not comfortable with,” Brown said.

The main purpose of the meeting Thursday was to discuss contracts the private haulers have with the city and how those could change in the next several years. There is talk of even bringing in more private haulers or expanding the boundaries of the current one.

The committee is expected to wrap up its work on the city’s trash problems by the end of June and submit possible recommendations for the full council to consider.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.