City crews collect 10 tons of trash in crime-prevention effort

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City waste crews collected more than 10 tons of large trash items from the streets of the Longleaf community. Photo courtesy of the city.
City waste crews collected more than 10 tons of large trash items from the streets of the Longleaf community. Photo courtesy of the city.

City waste crews collected 10.5 tons of illegally dumped trash from a Wilmington neighborhood this month as part of a joint crime prevention effort between multiple city departments to help revitalize crime-prone neighborhoods. More than $200,000 has been approved within the city’s new budget to keep the effort going into the next fiscal year.

The city collected several pieces of furniture, piles of cardboard and bags of trash in the neighborhood that were either illegally dumped or left in the right-of-way for pickup, according to City of Wilmington Spokeswoman Malissa Talbert. Waste crews worked on this effort during the first two weeks of June in the Longleaf Park area that spans between Shipyard Boulevard and Raleigh Street, to Carolina Beach Road and Vance Street.

Crews collected trash from 117 properties and distributed information to educate homeowners, landlords and tenants on the proper disposal of trash and bulky items such as furniture and electronics, Talbert said. The Longleaf area is the second targeted neighborhood since the crime prevention effort began earlier this year.

Since February, the city’s police department and code enforcement staff began working jointly with solid waste crews to help clean up neighborhoods in the wide-scale crime prevention effort. City crews hit a total of 71 properties that month in the first targeted area between 7th and 13th streets and collected about 14 tons of illegally dumped debris from the streets.

While the cleanups are a “short-term” fix, Talbert said the overall project is part of a long-term solution that will focus on educating property owners and enforcing public nuisance regulations when needed. The multi-departmental approach is the city’s solution to help address the “broken window” theory of community policing that more crime occurs in dilapidated or poorly maintained areas.

“It’s just a phenomena that attracts negative attention,” Wilmington Police Department Assistant Police Chief Jim Varrone said of the theory, adding that officers will continue to help identify neighborhoods in need of the project. The project is one of many under the police department’s newly formed Office of Strategic Enforcement and Outreach (OSEO), which Varrone now spearheads.

Read related story: Wilmington police partner with neighborhoods, city departments to prevent crime

Varrone said police will be “making the rounds this summer” with the hopes to move to another neighborhood closer to Wilmington’s inner city. Throughout the project, Varrone said police will be maintaining communication with the city’s code enforcement to help find properties that appear to be below-code or have poor living conditions.

“We’re are going to do this as long as we can. This is not going to be a quick fix,” Varrone said.

Trash crews worked overtime for the first two cleanups, Talbert said. But within the recently approved new budget, which begins July 1, is $30,000 allocated for the clean-up effort. The funds include community outreach and items for trash crews such as fuel, Talbert said.

Also included in the new budget is $84,000 for an additional code enforcement officer to help along nuisance abatements in the city separate from the trash removal initiative.

Another $120,000 has also been included for asbestos surveys, abatement and demolition violation cases that will aid in site cleanups. The new budget for the 2016-2017 was unanimously approved at the Wilmington City Council meeting Tuesday night.

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