FOLEY — Collecting garbage from about 9,000 homes, not to mention about 600 commercial Dumpsters each week, is a big job and getting bigger for Foley Public Works employees working to keep the …
FOLEY — Collecting garbage from about 9,000 homes, not to mention about 600 commercial Dumpsters each week, is a big job and getting bigger for Foley Public Works employees working to keep the city clean.
Foley city officials met with officers of local homeowners associations recently as part of a series of discussions between residents and municipal representatives. The meetings are held to allow city officials to discuss services and local needs with residents.
Darrell Russell, Foley Public Works director, told residents that his department has a variety of responsibilities including sidewalks, grass cutting, street maintenance, and maintaining the city's fleet of about 400 vehicles and pieces of equipment. Most of the calls received, however, concern one subject, garbage collection.
"We take every citizen's phone call," Russell said. "Out of every 100 phone calls, 90% of those are sanitation related."
He said some common calls are from residents who say the collection truck did not pick up the trash from the can in front of a house. He said a check of truck-mounted cameras often shows that the can had not been put out by the time garbage was collected on that street.
"We start at 6 a.m. I know for a fact that there are trucks in some of your neighborhoods by 6:05," Russell said. "It's important to get your can out, because the No. 1 call is that missed garbage and the skipped cans."
The department runs four garbage collection routes, picking up about 9,900 cans each week. The department also collects garbage from local businesses and apartments. Russell said Foley City Council recently approved the purchase of two additional trucks, which will allow the department to add a fifth collection route.
He said another issue concerns inappropriate items placed in garbage cans or recycling bins. Items such as car parts placed in trash cans can damage the equipment used to collect waste. Russell said those items should be placed with material put out for bulk collection, such as large appliances.
The city collects recyclable material once a week from homes participating in the program. Among the items collected for recycling are cardboard, paper, plastic and aluminum cans. Russell said the city does not take glass or containers contaminated with food wastes.
Cans are also sometimes filled with material such as leaves or other yard wastes.
Russell said that if processing plant officials find that a Foley truck has too much unacceptable material in its load, the city will be charged extra to dispose of the contaminated truckload in a landfill.
"Contamination is getting worse," Russell told HOA officers. "We don't need your eggshells. We don't need your household garbage. This is something that I really like y'all to take back to your members. It's getting worse."
The department also collects yard wastes from residents. Crews will collect up to six cubic yards of material from each home at a time. Individual limbs should not be more than 6 feet long or 6 inches in diameter.
Yard wastes should be placed in biodegradable bags. The city buries yard wastes rather than paying to take the material to a landfill. Environmental regulations do not allow the department to bury plastic bags.
Russell said the yard waste service is only for private homeowners. The department does not collect limbs and other cut material placed at the roadside by contractors clearing property. Disposal of material from commercial operations is the responsibility of the contractor.
Material also cannot be collected from the common areas of subdivisions. Russell said that under Foley ordinances, city garbage crews cannot pick up items placed on the commons.
The Public Works Department also oversees drainage in areas of the city. The department, however, is not responsible for the water detention ponds in most subdivisions.
Russell said public works is sometimes contacted by HOAs about problems with detention ponds, but those sites are not a city responsibility.. Residents with questions about detention ponds should contact the Foley Environmental Department.
Russell said the Public Works Department has 72 employees. When current vacancies are filled, the department will have 77 workers. He said council approved several new positions in the budget for the current fiscal year that will bring staffing up to 82.
The city has also approved construction of a new Public Works Department campus to replace the current building that opened in 1991.