Acting Valdosta City Manager Richard Hardy called me yesterday. This is unusual, although he does usually answer his phone if I call him.
Even more unusual was his news: the city may be moving ahead on keeping trash out of creeks.
First some background.
Recent adventures in Click ‘n’ Fix include this one, Trash still dribbling from 2695 N Ashley St into Two Mile Branch 2023-02-24, where City Marshalls closed the seeclickfix ticket even though I sent in more pictures showing trash was still in the same locations I had first reported.
Because I reopened the ticket, I did find out that the landowner had not only been notified of the problem, but had also been cited for an infraction of Valdosta City ordinances. Then City Marshalls closed it again.
City Marshalls closing seeclickfix tickets without any resolution of the problem is a longstanding issues, as Bobby McKenzie can attest.
So I filed an open records request for any written policies and procedures for closing seeclickfix tickets, city-wide or in individual departments. The response: there are none.
Then I asked for a meeting with the department head for the City Marshalls: Neighborhood Development and Community Protections Manager Anetra Riley.
Instead, I got that call yesterday from Acting City Manager Richard Hardy.
He talked about something he had alluded to during the Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle.
Something that Valdosta City Engineer Ben O’Dowd mentioned when he said at the Berkley Drive Two Mile Branch Cleanup, “We are taking steps to begin remediating this issue at the source.”
Richard Hardy said he was going to discuss with city staff methods of providing more information in Click ‘n’ Fix tickets about what City Marshalls are doing. There are limits to what can be said while a legal process is ongoing. But City Marshalls could say where they are in the process (notification or citation), how long until a response can be expected (usually 30 days), and what city ordinance was cited.
I don’t want to go into any more detail at this time, because I don’t want to jinx this.
And equally important, Richard Hardy said City Marshalls had already been notifying parking lot owners, and citing them if they did not fix their problems.
Which explains why trash cans have suddenly popped up in Target parking lots, for example.
It’s been three years since WWALS was alerted by a neighbor of the trashjam on Sugar Creek below Two Mile Branch.
From there the trash washes into the Withlacoochee River, and WWALS is getting tired of cleaning it up from trashjams floating in the river and on its banks.
Trash gets into Knights Creek and Dukes Bay Canal, too, and goes from there to Mud Swamp Creek, the Alapahoochee River, and the Alapaha River in Florida.
This is a public health problem inside Valdosta, especially for children who play in creeks, and for the rivers.
Not to mention floating trashjams are not helping eco-tourism.
Maybe now the City of Valdosta is working on stopping trash from getting into the creeks.
Along with the trash traps Valdosta has put at Sugar Creek and at the Lee Street Detention Pond on One Mile Branch, and, we hope, more places, the creeks and the rivers may get cleaner.
We shall see.
And don’t worry: even then there is more to do.
Meanwhile, I’d like to thank City Engineer Ben O’Dowd for working on trash traps and cleanups, and Acting City Manager Richard Hardy for looking into Click ‘n’ Fix procedures and enforcing Valdosta’s trash ordinances if businesses won’t do what they should voluntarily.
We will be watching. So will GA-EPD.
For much more about the trash problem, see:
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®