“I grew up in this neighborhood, I grew up running around this very alley, running around piles like what is right behind us. Now, in my late 30’s, I return to the house my dad lives in and the dumping continues and for me personally, it’s been a source of frustration.”

Those are the words of 4th District City Councilman Crispin Rea as he stood in an unimproved alley off 16th Terrace and Topping on Thursday morning, in front of a pile of mattresses, trash bags and rotting food.

Illegal Dumping Investigator Alan Ashursts does a quick once over on a trash pile before it’s loaded in to a city truck headed for the landfill.

The pile was roughly sixty feet from the back gate of Rea’s childhood home.

“Every day children pass piles of garbage and toxic materials as they walk to the bus stop. Our families live next to vacant lots with stacksof discarded tires and appliances, and far too many residents call the city to have it cleaned up by the city, only to have it return in days,”Rea stated.

Two new ordinances were introduced and passed during today’s city council legislative session that increase the minimum fine for an illegal dumping conviction on public lots to a range of $500 to $1,000.

Subsequent convictions would bring fines to a minimum of range of $750 to $1,000 per violation. In addition, violators would be required to complete a 48-hour shock incarceration time or participate in a court-ordered community service clean-up program.

Alan Ashurst, a familiar name for Northeast residents as one of the most strident illegal dumping investigators on city staff, has returned tothe Neighborhoods Department and now leads a team of five investigators, all of whom come to the department with over a decade and a half of city service under their belts.

“This is the first time we’ve had a staff, a supervisor and a manager dedicated to something like this, but it’s considerably more organized now” Ashurst said. “The crew that we have, every one of them has beenbwith the city for over fifteen-plus years, they know codes enforcement,

they know Chapter 62 of illegal dumping. I think moving forward, we’regoing to have an excellent team.”

According to Courtney Stevens, Public Information Officer for the city’s Public Works Department, the city will be launching an awarenesscampaign that includes increased messaging on illegal dumping and how toreport illegal dumping through the city’s 311 app or calling816-513-1313 to report an illegal dump site.

We’ll have a full rundown on this story in next week’s edition of The Northeast News.