Herb Jaffe: Summerlin residents decry plan for less-frequent trash collection

Las Vegas City Council, take heed: Folks in Summerlin are not happy about those trash-collection changes proposed by Republic Services of Southern Nevada. In fact, many seniors — especially those who live in the hilly sections of Sun City Summerlin — are downright livid over the prospect of having to push rolling trash carts, which Republic would provide, to and from the curb.

Furthermore, they don’t like the idea of having to keep those carts in their garages for an entire week while enduring the trash odors, especially during summer. That’s what would happen under Republic’s plan to reduce trash pickup from twice a week to once.

Complaints poured in from readers after this column detailed the proposed new system, which would also include pickup of recyclables in a separate wheeled cart once each week instead of every other week, eliminating the red, white and blue boxes.

The City Council has spent several months mulling Republic Services’ request for a 15-year extension to its contract for the exclusive right to haul away the city’s garbage. The existing contract does not expire until 2021. Republic has already tied Henderson, North Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County into the new system.

Republic’s plan would reduce the number of employees needed to do the job. And while the separate recyclable rolling carts would be intended to encourage recycling, the system would benefit Republic Services’ coffers. The company sells the recyclables and pockets the proceeds. Meanwhile, there has been no mention of a proposed reduction in trash pickup rates.

“My question is this: When do we get to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’? We have an elderly community that does not like change,” emailed Tom Snopkowski, who is president of the Bridgeport HOA. The association, with 102 homeowners, is at Tropicana Avenue and Durango Drive. Bridgeport has become one of Republic’s test sites in Las Vegas.

“We got these trash containers around the end of June,” Snopkowski added. “I was away when and if we were ever notified that Republic was going to give us these containers. We don’t want them. And nobody ever asked us if we wanted them. They just showed up. Their employees said they were just doing their job..”

Joan Privman emailed: “Many seniors in Sun City have medical and physical problems requiring the use of canes or walkers, which would prevent them from wheeling containers to the curb. And many are widowed women who do not have the strength to move large containers, especially when they would be much heavier with a week’s worth of trash.”

Privman added that much of Sun City is hilly, “thereby making the chore of wheeling the containers even more difficult. And the thought of once-weekly pickup in the summer makes me cringe. I experienced missing a pickup on Thursday recently, and the odor in my garage was most unpleasant.”

Barbara Barney noted that many Sun City residents have lived in the community for 25 years and longer.

“They are now in their 80s and 90s and are very frail,” she wrote. “They could not push wheeled carts with trash in them …”

Jackie Lawson asked, “Why do we have to change things that work? Older people, like me, don’t want to drag huge trash containers to and from the curb.”

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

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