Sometimes I have a hard time differentiating between a good news story and a bad news story. Today is a perfect example with Chester City on the front page of the Delaware County Daily Times with a story about neighbors teaming up to clean the streets of Chester. 

The good news is seeing a group of people coordinate to clean debris in a couple locations. They didn’t quite clean the streets of Chester as the front page implies, but for the couple locations they tackled, it was a much needed success. 

The bad news is Chester has a multifaceted trash problem that city government cannot resolve on its own; it’s complicated by fiscal woes and COVID-19; it’s made worse by illegal dumping; and Chester has too many blocks beset with blight and apathy that many people don’t care enough to keep their surroundings clean – and it’s killing the neighbors who do care.

The very first sentence in the article kind of confused me…

A number of Chester residents have been stepping up to battle the illegal dumping of trash in their community with recent clean- up efforts. 

You don’t battle illegal dumping by cleaning up the mess left behind by the illegal dumpers. The illegal dumpers are thanking you because it clears a spot for them to dump their next load. 

It was nice that Covanta brought along a few volunteers to help with the clean up and coordinated with city government who they say supplied the dumpsters while Covanta delivered the dumpsters to their incinerator.

My hope is Covanta and city government come up with a method to end illegal dumping all together by promoting the availability of dumpsters right on the Covanta site where these dumpers can deliver their loads and stop being a scourge on the community by dumping in back alleys, front yards, high weeds, or wherever people aren’t looking. If dumpers knew there is a place in the city they can bring that stuff legally, I believe they’d bring it. 

Until something like that is worked out, these clean-up days focused on bulk trash will only solve a temporary eyesore while inadvertently benefiting the criminal who dumped there in the first place. 

Let’s turn the illegal dumper into a legal dumper by pointing them to the dumpster down by the river that will be happy to receive their load. Maybe it opens a couple days a week or a couple hours a day, but the effort has to be ongoing and consistent. 

I have faith you smart people in city government and Covanta can figure a long term ongoing solution to this. Little neighborhood clean-ups will not win the battle of illegal dumping.

“Hopefully, we can help find a solution to some of this illegal dumping,” said Don Commarata, business manager for the Covanta facility.

Hopefully you will.