The city of Newnan has concluded its public meetings on a proposal for a downtown sanitation service, and city staff will be putting together a report for the city council.
The last of three meetings was held Wednesday night. Total attendance at the three meetings was around 20, with most being downtown business owners, said Assistant City Manager Hasco Craver.
Most were supportive of the city’s proposal, he said. “Of course, everyone had a couple of questions.”
Craver said that the plan is to have a two-person department that would take care of sanitation downtown six days a week. Garbage would be picked up daily from most businesses, but the department would do more than just empty trash cans. A public-works employee would be available to fill in as needed.
“What has really excited most of the participants is the opportunity for us to do some kind of environmental service activities, such as power washing the sidewalks and keeping trash cans cleaned,” Craver said. There would also be the opportunity to clean up the alleys and keep them clean.
The city washes the sidewalks every few years, but, “If we are staying on top of that, it would be much more pleasant,” Craver said.
Though the city of Newnan requires trash service for all residential addresses, there is no such requirement for businesses. In downtown, there is a mix of garbage companies providing services to various businesses, and some smaller businesses don't have garbage pickup at all, according to Craver.
Craver said there has been some pushback from business owners who aren’t currently paying for garbage pickup. But the resistance decreases when people learn about the other cleanup that will be going on, he said.
Some downtown restaurants have over a dozen outside trash cans to hold all their garbage, and those cans take up space on sidewalks and in alleys. If garbage is being picked up almost every day, “We feel that we can cut down the number of cans,” Craver said.
The city has money in a sanitation fund that will be used to cover the startup costs for the new service, and charges to customers would pay for the daily operations. The rate would be based on the amount of garbage produced and other needs.
Craver said there have also been discussions about having a place to drop off recycling in downtown. “We’re going to figure that one out,” he said.
In the past, there has been talk about employing downtown alleys for outdoor dining or other novel uses.
“Right now, that is just a great idea. If we can clean the place up, maybe it moves from an idea to a reality,” Craver said.
Garbage is a problem in downtown Newnan because “our historic-built environment wasn’t built for all of this 21st century stuff,” Craver said.
But it’s a sign of a vibrant downtown business district.
“I’d rather have this issue on my desk than trying to fill a lot of vacant storefronts,” Craver said.
The plan was developed by city staff and the mayor and council. Craver said he hopes to have a report ready to submit to the council for consideration in August.