City, County Defend Against Accusations Concerning Fourth of July Litter


Many citizens blame the city for the copious trash across San Angelo from Saturday’s Fourth of July festivities in one way or another.

Locals suggested several actions for the city to take in order to help to resolve this issue. These suggestions include providing more trashcans in parks, creating a system to reward those who throw away trash or even closing parks altogether during holidays.

City and county officials are currently discussing a solution to this problem; however, officials also encourage individuals to take responsibility for their own mess.

“I don’t know what to be blaming the city for,” Operations Director Shane Kelton said. “They’re parks, and if we’re going to have a park system we’re going to allow the people to utilize the park system. We wouldn’t want to close the parks from people being able to use [them] otherwise that kind of defeats the purpose of having a park system in place.”

The garbage was not isolated to the city alone; Commissioner Bill Ford expressed his distaste for the way visitors treated county parks.

“These are public parks,” Ford said. “The public held responsibilities when they use that park is to clean up after themselves. And this was abused way beyond the scope of what we would expect out of people, to leave this amount of trash laying on the ground, and just expecting the county or city or whoever’s supposed to pick it up for them.”

Cleanup crews spent the week picking up messes throughout the city and county. Despite the efficiency of these crews, both Ford and Kelton pointed out that they can be expensive.

“It takes a lot of taxpayer dollars to have all of my employees clean up everyone else’s trash,” Kelton said. “So if people clean up their own trash, then in the long run, it saves our taxpayers and our citizens money because of that.”

If Ford received approval from commissioner’s court, he would have the authority to close the parks in his precinct. He and Kelton, however, said that closing parks is the last measure that they want to take.

Kelton claims that the city continues to add trash receptacles to parks each year, especially around Lake Nasworthy. He was adamant that “tons and tons” of trash can capacity is available to visitors of these parks. He also mentioned that a city ordinance requires citizens to take charge of their own garbage when these dumpsters are full.

According to Ford, the county can easily police the cleanliness of parks in his precinct throughout the vast majority of the year. Ford called the amount of trash in Foster Park, including garbage which had blown into Spring Creek, “unacceptable.”

“It’s not our job to pick up after them like that,” Ford said. “You know, if we don’t have rules that we can enforce and prevent this from happening, then we can just lock the gates and close the parks. That’s not going to be popular at all. It was not popular at Twin Buttes, but you better find a better funding source to pay for the cleanup or you just close it down.”

Kelton pointed out how difficult it is to police litterers on the lake when such a large amount of people are present.

“It’s one of those things that you just have to rely on people to do what’s right,” Kelton said. “Some people do and, of course, some people don’t. That’s just the way it goes.”

According to Kelton, most parks in the city were “in pretty good shape” by Wednesday. As cleanups come to a close, the city and county will continue to discuss ways to keep parks clean during summer holidays.

“We just have a whole bunch of people who have a total disregard for someone else’s property,” Ford said. “It wasn’t that way when I was a young man. Maybe it’s just a different mindset.”

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Sad & ashamed of this, even more so that COSA or TGC think that there is a need to defend themselves. They aren't the ones that pooped where they partied

I was taught by my parents and grandparents to "leave with more (trash) than you brought". Further instilled in me in Boy Scouts. I still do to this day.

It's only going to get worse; imagine the picture today from the next generation's upbringing of this.

Throwing this back at the public 100% is exactly what I've come to expect from our "leaders". Almost every picture I've seen is trash piled up near trash cans that were FULL. Were their (our) employees off work for the holiday weekend? Doesn't it make sense to have people going around emptying these cans & putting new liners in them all weekend long, instead of acting shocked on Monday? I'm tired of their threats to close the parks. Like I said once before, if this was a problem last year, they had 365 days to come up with a better solution. As for spending taxpayer money for clean ups, give me a break. Those people would have been on the clock anyway. They're just having to do something they feel is beneath them or not in their job description. Spend a few grand and put more dumpsters in the high traffic areas. Hand out big,sturdy garbage bags to people entering the parks. Figure it out. But quit bitching about it and trying to deflect blame. We know some people left trash behind. Get over it and fix the problem without threats to close OUR parks. Do your job.

While it seems likely that roving bands of trash collectors could have made a big difference, there's a bit of personal responsibility as well. If I went to the beach or a park and the trash cans were full, I'd put all my garbage back in the bags which I used to bring it to the park in the first place, and take it home. You had room in your car to bring the junk, surely the same room is available to take it out.

Joe Public should be proud of the community and try to keep it clean...If people leave a camping site or park littered in trash, can you imagine what their home looks like? It is the responsibility of each person to keep the parks and camp site clean!!!

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