The Waco City Council is looking for ways to prevent illegal dumping at unattended donation drop off boxes throughout the city.
Fernando Arroyo, the Sanger Heights Neighborhood Association President, said people put trash near three unattended drop off boxes at a vacant lot on 25th Street and Bosque Boulevard within the past year became an issue.
"Folks would bring mattresses, couches and even just trash. Things that wouldn't be suitable for donations,” Arroyo said.
He contacted his councilman, Dillon Meek, who represents district 4, to tell him about the issue.
“Throughout the city there would be many of them that would get large amount of clutter, furniture, trash that surrounded this donation boxes if anyone would come and collect it, if not longer and it would be up to the city to come and clean it up and that's a problem,” Meek said.
He said the city is now is looking at whether to prohibit the unattended drop off boxes or to create a license/ permit ordinance with requirements, such as container size, location and appearance. In addition, there would be regulations for the maintenance and upkeep. Enforcement and penalties would also be part of that ordinance.
“We want to make sure members of this community can continue to give to local nonprofits and support those local nonprofits. However, we want to make sure that the issue of the donation boxes becoming hubs of trash does not continue to persist,” Meek said.
Arroyo said he would be in support of increasing regulations for the unattended donation boxes.
"I'm all for some kind of response. Some solution preventing the trash to accumulate. I don't think the boxes are a terrible idea. I think the trash accumulating and to get the message across these sites are not for trash," Arroyo said.
During the city council work session on Tuesday, Planning Services Director, Clint Peters said there are about 40 donation boxes in the city and most of them are from out of town. He added most of them are for profit.
The non-profit organization Green Education Foundation, which is not from the Central Texas area, has a donation box at the Central Texas Marketplace. A representative said in a statement that it would comply with any new permit required by the city. However, it would be opposed to any regulation that would ban unattended drop off boxes since their container is larger than most.
“Green Education Foundation understands the problems associated with the typical small donation box which includes illegal dumping and graffiti. That is why we have invested so much effort and expense in building a self-sustained donation container that is monitored 24 hours a day (real time) so we can immediately identify any problems and react right away to correct the issues,” a Green Education representative said in a statement.
The Heart of Texas Goodwill has one donation box in the city of Waco. The non-profit’s president Dan Nisley said if the city added more requirements for the boxes, the organization would apply for it. However, if the city decided to ban the boxes, the group would be in favor of it. He said it would help the organization receive more donations and it will eliminate some of the issues with the upkeep of the boxes.
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