Morning Call -One of the challenges of reducing Pennsylvania’s litter problem is getting the slobs to realize that littering is not a victimless crime.
So today I’ll introduce you to two of the victims.
Will and Patti Mayo spent about $600 last year cleaning up furniture, tires and other trash that was dumped on a vacant lot that Will owns in Upper Macungie.
Will is 99. Patti is a little younger. It was too big of a job for them to handle so they had to hire someone.
And now they’re likely going to have to pay more, because after that mess was removed, someone else — or maybe the same degenerate? — dumped more.
The Mayos can’t just ignore it. The township threatened to fine Will up to $1,000 a day if the first heap wasn’t removed.
“We strongly suggest you consider the implications of failure to respond to this notice,” the township told him in a letter.
They’re expecting to eventually get another warning about the mess that’s there now.
“I don’t blame the township,” Patti told me.
She and her husband blame the dumpers.
“I would like to see these people punished,” she said. “That’s what I think should happen.”
I think so, too. But litterbugs — dumping is just a mass form of littering — aren’t easy to catch.
The Mayos are trying to catch the ones who have complicated their lives. They’ve placed a motion-activated camera on the property, at the end of Reppert Lane where it dead ends at the Route 222 Bypass.
The street didn’t used to end there, but the bypass construction cut it off. Few people now have reason to go down to the end of the road, making it attractive for dumping.
The camera got images of the person who left a truckload of furniture there, and the images were provided to township police.
The Mayos also have posted signs on the property indicating it is under 24-hour surveillance and that trespassers and dumpers will be prosecuted.
Township Manager Robert Ibach Jr. told me he understands the Mayos’ frustration. But he said owners are responsible for maintaining their properties under all circumstances.
The township tries to deter dumping by having police patrol problem areas, such as Reppert Lane, he said.
The land adjacent to the property was purchased by a developer. If it’s built up and there is more traffic in the area, hopefully it won’t be a haven for dumpers anymore.
But that’s not going to happen overnight.
Upper Macungie is starting a program to address littering. In conjunction with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, it will seek volunteers to “adopt” local roads and clean them up occasionally. Ibach said the idea came from a discussion among concerned citizens and township supervisors at the board’s meeting in February.
Businesses and residents who are interested in participating should contact the township. Signs would be put up to recognize those who adopt roads.
Ibach believes the unusual weather made the litter more noticeable and prompted the discussion.
“I think it was such a mild winter and the snow wasn’t there to keep the junk covered up,” he said. “When you drive down the street, it just stands out.”
I hope one of the first streets that gets adopted would be Reppert Lane. That would help the Mayos, who shouldn’t have to pay to clean up someone else’s mess.
The township could cut them a break by holding off on any future enforcement actions until after the program gets going and possibly cleans up their property.
If you’re one of those slobs who thinks tossing your trash along the road isn’t hurting anyone, think about the Mayos.
Another challenge is to get people to realize what littering is.
Here’s an email I got from someone who was upset with my recent column about cigarette butts being tossed on sidewalks and roads. The writer, who didn’t have the courage to identify himself or herself, wonders why I consider that a problem.
“Do you know what litter is? My guess would be NO. You and some person complain about cigarette butts being toss out. So tell me oh smart ones just how many cigarette butts are picked up. Right you don’t know the answer. Oh yes you and that person are non smokers whoopie for both of you. Litter is TRASH thrown from vehicles, not cigarette butts which in time will evaporate.
“Litter is from those who go to fast food and throw their trash bags onto the roads. You tell me how many cigarette butts you have picked up from the roads. Bet you see more fast food bags along the roads than you see cigarette butts. Here’s one for you know it alls. Tell me why the automakers don’t install ash trays in their vehicles. They put cigarette lighter plugs in them only so you have a way to charge your phone. Get out and do road research before talking stupid like you just did.”
I’m not the one talking stupid.
Morning Call columnist Paul Muschick can be reached at 610-820-6582 or email@example.com