A huge thank you to, Bill Lindberg, for his letter to the editor that was published in the Apr. 25 issue of the Warwick Valley Dispatch about roadside littering. This is becoming a really serious problem, one that upsets, depresses and angers me no end whenever I see it. Rte 17A/94 is turning into a trash dump at frequent intervals along its entire length, as are other roads.
Aside from greatly detracting from the quality of life in our otherwise beautiful area, this can have a very negative economic impact on tourism, business and property values. Several of our officials and other community members work so hard and creatively to promote the area and encourage tourism and investment, but who will want to visit, shop in, eat in, move to, or invest in a slum area, which is what parts of our area are starting to look like due to the horrendous roadside littering. There might even be harmful health effects, depending on what is being dumped and seeping into the soil and water.
Mr. Lindberg thinks the best answer to the problem is probably personal responsibility. So I fervently hope that any offenders reading our letters may find their civic conscience and stop offending. After all, how hard is it to keep a bag or receptacle in the car and put trash into that instead of tossing it out the window? Maybe Town and/or village officials could address the issue in, say, communications to residents.
Of course, many offenders may not be local residents, but just passing through. And sometimes the culprits might even be bears dragging away trash put out for pickup.
In any case, I think we need a lot more help from local authorities in tackling the problem. Mr. Lindberg suggests large fines and placing cameras on roads. I agree, and would make the fines and penalties extremely stiff (that could be a great source of revenue!). I also suggest putting signs along roadways warning people of the penalties for littering and advising them that roadways may be under camera surveillance. A further tactic might be the “trash trap” equivalent of speed traps, with police patrolling some of the most abused stretches.
Maybe property owners also need to be made responsible for cleaning up roadside trash on or abutting their property and fined if they don’t do it. We’ve been fined for considerably more minor esthetic infractions on our property. And when people throw bottles, cans, paper and other trash on our lawn, which happens fairly often, we clean it up right away because it is an eyesore to us and to the neighborhood. Our neighbors do the same.
I have often wanted to take a bag and pick up roadside trash myself, but my husband won’t let me because in most cases it would be too dangerous. There is usually no place for the car to stop and park, sometimes it would mean walking in the roadway, sometimes it is private property, and sometimes the terrain would be too difficult for me to negotiate on my own. I would therefore also suggest that our Town or villages might organize group volunteer roadside clean-up events and supply a police, DPW, Fire Department, or other appropriate escort to supervise and make sure conditions are safe for the volunteers. Even better would be to have a professional clean-up crew do the work a few times a year, if at all feasible economically. Maybe we could even get some assistance from the county or state.
Whatever the strategies, I think urgent measures need to be taken to combat this very serious blight.