The TRASH Archive

Here, we'll keep track of the Town Meeting Talk Show dialogue on dealing with our junk, trash, and treasures.

Here's what City Council has asked us to consider:

(a) On the one hand, we have citizens who believe trashy yards are an eyesore, and that it's not fair for some property owners to undermine the overall look of the town.  Further, there's a risk of "junky" yards lowering the property value of adjoining lots.  For example, a homeowner trying to sell their house might lose sales for no other reason than the prospective buyer doesn't want to live next to a dump.

(b) On the other hand, we have the rights of property owners to keep their property in a manner that they desire.  What one person considers junk may have value or meaning to the owner of said "junk".  Why should the government, or other people, be telling us how we can or can't maintain our own property?

Given that many in our community have chosen to raise a stink when council "makes decisions without consulting 'the people'", it would be disappointing to this reporter to see council ask 'the people", and for "the people" to remain silent and/or disinterested.  So we encourage you to weigh in somehow -- on the show, at council meetings, at city hall... something -- because if they ask for our help and we say nothing, then we have no business being surprised if they choose (on down the road) to act as our representatives without begging for public opinion.

For the purposes of efficiency, we will refer to a "Trash or Treasure Yards" as a "TTY"

Add to the community voices by emailing  Your name is never used unless you ask me to.

Updated 6/19/06, 7:17pm

(1) added 5/18 -- Summary of ideas from callers on dealing with TTYs from the 5/18 show

-- The city should assess any risks in a TTY, such as hazardous materials, chemicals, or anything that could injure a guest, emergency personnel, law enforcement, etc.  Property owners have liability if someone is injured as a result of items on their property.

-- "Junk" items like old cars, toilet seats, bathtubs, net piles, and so on, should be arranged in such a way as to appear to have been put there "on purpose".  Don't just dump the stuff in a way that makes it look careless; rather, try to set it up in such a way that it looks like it's there for a reason (decoration, sentimental value, whatever).

-- A good way to hold on to "junk" without it interfering with the quality of life of neighbors & community members might be a requirement to fence it in or tarp it (with a quality tarp, not a raggedy one).

-- Property owners should seriously consider building at least a simple structure out of wood or something to contain their trash cans.  This keeps the animals and wind out, so that trash doesn't get blown around one's property (trash that may not subsequently get picked up by the property owner).

(2) added 5/18 -- Summary of ideas from callers on dealing with loose trash from the 5/18 show

-- Jack up the littering fines and enforce them

-- Organize community volunteer groups for adopt-a-block, or something similar.  These groups would care for a defined area in the interest of helping maintain a cleaner town.

-- Bring back the paid cleanup crews.  We used to have teens would be hired for keeping things clean.  There may be grants out there for this.

-- Assign clean up tasks to those convicted of crimes and sentenced to community service.

(3) added 5/18


I was thinking that it would possibly be a good idea to maybe have a clean up day in the Fall in
order to prevent trash from being buried in the winter.  It would help out for sure.

As far as property concerns.......some citys in the real world have made it a rule to have your yards
fenced in if they are unpresentable.  Just food for thought.

(4) added 5/18 -- caller summary

-- It's such a shame that we have clean up day, and then everything is a mess again in just a few weeks.  It's very disheartening.

-- We should find out how other towns deal with this problem -- maybe they have good ideas that we could adopt.

(5) added 5/22

Good morning JR.

I would like to pipe in on the subject that you just brought up from city council's interest in pursuing management of "sloppy property".   I whole heartedly agree with Scott Hahn on this matter, we need to tread carefully and think this one through before taking action.  As you said, what is one person's trash is another person's treasure.  What are they looking at as criteria for when management should step in and do something about it?  Is it an ugly boat sitting in the yard ( ;-) ), or someone using a spare tire as a planter, or just plain old rif raf sitting out because the property owner does not have a building to store it in?  In Cordova we come across alot of these scenarios and most of the time I find fellow Cordovans [embracing] our differences of lifestyle.  We have people who like to hang numerous buoys all over the exterior of their house, who am I to say that can't happen.  Also, we have people who are very [partial] to their old (what I would deem junker) cars but why should their neighbor be able to say that they don't want them around anymore?  And yes, this is a fishing community and we do have alot of "stuff", okay junk, that you can find in all neighborhoods that may not be aesthetically pleasing but its a fact of life.

By the way, I am noticing everywhere I go that the Cordova Cleanup really made a positive difference as it does every year.  That is such a wonderful way to offer an option to people that may want to part with their "trash" without over stepping boundaries.  It sounds like lots of people took advantage of that and got their places cleaned up to their liking.  Thank you to everyone who helped out with that, you did wonderful work!

(6) added 5/22

I would like to give my two cents on the trashy yards topic that is being discussed.

I really would like to see Cordova completely cleaned up too but I really think that we need to tread very carefully about imposing regulations on what we can put on personal property.  "Presentable" and "Eye Sore" could be defined differently from one person to another. What my neighbor may see as an ugly trailer, to me is a useful and needed item.  I will admit that it is indeed rusty and not very pretty to look at but it is something I need.

I think (or at least I hope) that most Cordovans would agree that we are against littering.  What I think is more of a controversial issue is having your own items on your personal property and it seems like that is what is being discussed at meetings.  I would like to reiterate the "One man's trash is another man's treasure" idea.  We all look at things differently, even art.  Setting these criteria and guidelines is going to be difficult to say the least.  I do hope that, if it goes through, they do set loose guidelines for it.  We are a fishing community and it could potentially be a hardship to many people if we impose a blatant no clutter type rule.  I'm sure some of my non fisher people neighbors do not understand my need to store tarped nets but to me it is very necessary.  I wish there was a way I could spruce them up a little, maybe I will have to get creative. ;-

Thanks for your time with this.

(7) added 5/22

I would invite the Council or any one else to drive down the 6.5 mile road and see at least 4 junk yards in the 1st 12 residents.† Iím not writing about fishing equipment but old junk cars and scraps of metal piled up, buildings falling down, buildings build out of tarps and the list goes on.† What does this do to the property values of residents that keep up their property?† Especially with in the 1st * mile a person sees this and sets the tone for the whole area.

(8) Call summary added 5/22

Head comments during a stay in Anchorage that they had heard Cordova was a really dirty town.  Beautiful scenery, but hard to enjoy it when you have to look at all the trash and dog dump on the sidewalks and along the roads

(9) Call summary added 5/22

Caller just returned to Alaska after spending several years in Finland, and noted that the Finns just have an automatic cleanliness "instinct".  If they see trash, they simply pick it up.  There's nothing in their cultural mindset that says "It's not my mess, so I'm gonna just leave it here and complain to someone who'll send someone to clean it up."  Finns just have "clean" built into their lifestyle.

Caller suggested that the deal with people's personal property will be very tough when balancing against people's rights.

Caller suggested that city cleanup efforts could be broken down into smaller parts in order to make them less overwhelming.  For example, in one month, the city has a day that they accept old batteries, and we get rid of all of those.  maybe the next month, there's a day for hazardous materials.  Maybe the next month it's junk cars.  The point is to focus on one thing at a time, pick a date, promote that date heavily to give citizens a chance to prepare their materials, and then deal with that specific material in one focused event.

(10) added 5/31

Hey J.R.

As an owner of a "trashy" looking place, I'd like to give some insite.  When we acquired out property in 1986, there were 55 vehicles/boats/camper, etc.  My husband hauled them away when the garbage barge came to Cordova.    Since that time, we've had dear friends ask," Could we just leave our boat and/or vehicle at your place just for the winter, because there's no place to put it. Sure enough, we have ended up with abandoned vehicles and boats.

Our problem is disposing of these eyesores.  I would suggest that the City garbage/bailar make it easier to dispose of vehicles, refrigerators, old boats etc.  We tried to get rid of some stuff this year, but there was no room at the dump.  Also, we can't afford to pay for each vehicle abandoned.  I would suggest a campaign by the City to clean up these eyesores.  If it were advertised that on certain dates we could have them picked up---for free---then perhaps people would take advantage of it.   Not just on clean up day, but perhaps once a month on certain days.

Just a thought from a person who wants to get rid of the junk as much as everybody else!

(11) added 6/19



Add to the community voices by emailing  Your name is never used unless you ask me to.