Too much trash irks merchants in Mystic

Mystic - The trash cans in downtown Mystic have been overflowing and business owners want the situation fixed, according to the president of Downtown Mystic Merchants.

"We have overflowing cans all the time and it looks terrible," Judy Hartley, president of Downtown Mystic Merchants, told the Economic Development Commission last week.

Public Works Director Gary Schneider wrote in an email Friday that a representative of his staff and Kristin Clarke, the town's economic development specialist, would speak to the merchants.

The Mystic Streetscape project, which buried utilities and installed granite curbs, new sidewalks and light poles, also replaced the 55-gallon trash receptacles with 35-gallon containers.

"Is it prettier? Yes," Hartley told the commission on Aug. 7. "Does it do the job? No."

On July 1, the Department of Public Works took over trash pickup in downtown, which had previously been handled by a contractor, Schneider wrote. The department inspects and empties the containers seven days a week, with pickups once a day on weekdays and twice on Saturday, he wrote.

"Supervisors when passing through the area can direct additional pickups," Schneider added. The department also took steel barrels, with lids, out of storage and placed them in several locations to supplement the new containers, he wrote.

Cheryl Robdau, owner of Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream, said public works has been "very cooperative" about sending a truck to handle additional pickups, but downtown Mystic needs larger trash barrels or more of them, as well as containers for recyclables. Much of the trash includes items like water bottles, she said.

"They did put an extra garbage bin at the top of the street, so that will help," Robdau said. "But it still doesn't deal with the recyclable issue." She said she sends her employees out with trash bags on Sunday nights to clear the top of the cans.

Hartley told the Economic Development Commission that merchants complained about trash overflowing and were handed old steel cans like the town didn't care how they looked.

"You made these people go through hell, and now all they want to do is run their business" without worrying about garbage outside, she said.

Many downtown businesses suffered losses during the first phase of the Mystic Streetscape project because it tore up sidewalks, caused traffic delays and drove some shoppers away. The project coincided with a recession and bridge repair, making matters worse.

Economic development specialist Clarke said the merchants may want more new trash cans, but they're expensive - a few hundred dollars each - and she doesn't know if the town can afford them. Schneider said there's no money set aside in his budget to buy new containers.

dstraszheim@theday.com

Twitter: @DStraszheim

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