It’s spring, and with the warm weather comes a realization of all the garbage, debris and waste that’s piled up over the winter months.
But not to fear. The city of Durango is asking residents to put all unwanted furniture, large appliances and tree trimmings on the street to be taken away. The entire streets crew – about 13 people – has been sweeping South Durango neighborhoods to collect piles of garbage left out by residents, said Levi Lloyd, director of city operations.
“It contributes to a cleaner Durango,” he said.
Spring cleanup is an annual event aimed at helping people get rid of items and debris they couldn’t offload otherwise, Lloyd said. Some people don’t have trucks or a means of getting rid of larger items, he said, so the city offers cleanup services to keep properties around town clear of debris.
City crews will pick up furniture, large appliances, scrap metal, drywall, fencing, carpeting, tiles, dried paint cans, tree trimmings and branches less than 8 feet in length and less than 8 inches in diameter, along with bagged or boxed loose brush and leaves. Anyone wanting to get rid of these items may stack them in a pile near a typical garbage pickup area, either on a curb or in an alley.
The city will not accept rocks, concrete, dirt, bricks, hazardous or industrial materials, electronics or batteries (these can be recycled at the Durango Recycle Center on Saturdays), tires, stumps and railroad ties treated with creosote. Piles should not block access to utilities, such as gas or water meters, and should not block vehicles if put near a road or alley.
The cleanup is scheduled in stages that target different neighborhoods. The city has cleared debris piles from Three Springs and is now working to clean up South Durango, which it plans to complete by the end of this week, Lloyd said. City crews will scour northern Durango next week, western Durango the week of April 22 and eastern Durango the week of April 29.
Lloyd expects city crews will pick up anywhere between 2,500 and 3,000 cubic yards of waste during the monthlong cleanup. That’s enough debris to almost fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool – about 300 truck loads, Lloyd said.
But when the city has an intense winter like this year’s, the amount of “brown waste” – things like tree limbs or piles of leaves – tends to be higher. In the spring of 2007, the city picked up 3,500 cubic yards of waste – enough to overfill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Scrap metal is often picked up by “industrious citizens,” who sell the metal to scrap yards, Lloyd said. “Brown waste” is put through a wood chipper and then offered to residents as mulch free of charge. Anything else is often taken to a landfill.
City crews pick up all kinds of items during spring cleanup, Lloyd said. And it’s all up for grabs, he said: “We encourage urban foraging.”
“The guys find all kinds of stuff that you wouldn’t think people would throw away. We found a pretty good Martin acoustic guitar, kayaks, fully functioning mountain bikes,” Lloyd said. “You name it, especially with college getting out soon, a lot of times you could literally drive around these piles and literately furnish a house. Need a couch, chair, lamp? I would encourage you drive around and look at the piles.”