I need to become a part-time Garbage Collector because my community has become a Garbage Dump.
My neighborhood built in the post-WW II era has been a nice, middle-class, melting pot of families working hard to achieve the American Dream. I moved here in 1984, and along with my wife, raised our two children, now out of college and in the work force. We have enjoyed great relationships with our neighbors all over the community, and have made life-long friendships.
This community is about 670 homes just inside the Beltway in Silver Spring, and in the past few years it has become a convenient Garbage Dump, specializing in bottles and cans of beer, wine, liquor, water and soda. It is time for some action, but first here is some past Garbage from this century, that might explain why people think this community is a Garbage Dump.
Our Home Values dropped over 40% and are still down 10-15% since the recession of 2008. Scores of houses sat abandoned for years, before banks bothered to auction them off. Some were nicely re-modeled and sold, but most became upkept rentals.
Our Pool, the longest running community pool in Montgomery County, was an oasis in the community and rebuilt like new in 2003. But it had to close in 2014, because of a lack of membership. Luckily it has income from a Cell Tower to pay for upkeep and taxes to keep hope alive for a future re-opening.
Our Elementary School was closed in the early 80’s and torn down, but there was great excitement when the County decided to build a brand new elementary school in 2005. To mixed reviews, it became the first school in Montgomery County built for grades K-2. This meant that hundreds of kids are bussed from north of the Beltway to the new school and hundreds out of the community north to the 3-5 grade school, causing massive traffic back-ups for an hour, twice a day. When they finally widened the main entrance to our community, they removed our beautifully built, wooden sign announcing our sub-division to the world.
In 2012, a Ride-On Bus, that runs through our community, forgot to turn right, and barreled directly into a house and landed in the living room. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but it was years before the house was repaired.
Recently a small truck purposely drove over a curb, through a metal fence, down a hill and made a right in the backyard to smash the back door of a nice brick rambler. It was such a precise hit that replacing the door and bending the fence back upright, should make it look brand new. Scary behavior.
A nightmare in our community continued last week, a life-long resident, now 27, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for brutally shaking his infant son and eventually causing his death. He was both a star football player in high school and swimmer on our team. As President of the pool for three years, I hired him as a lifeguard and found him to be a decent, responsible kid. Who knew? What a tragedy.
Sorry…let me get back to writing about our current Garbage problem!
Good news first, our inactive, Citizens Association has become active with 130 e-mail addresses on a List-Serve and monthly meetings at the Elementary School averaging 17 folks last year. They sponsored two major cleanups, last Spring and Fall. My wife and I, worked on the Spring creek clean-up and filled up eight big garbage bags. Not since the first Earth Day in 1970, had I picked up so much trash.
The Fall clean-up near the highway did a great job as well, but since then the view has gone downhill. Last Wednesday, I lost my mind and I picked up 50-60 bottles and cans in a few minutes, and threw them in yet-to-be, picked-up recycle containers on the curbs. It hardly made a dent. I tried to calculate how many people it would take to decide to throw a weekly spree of bottles and cans just in that area of our community. Conservatively I surmised, it must be at least 20-30 people dumping glass and plastic containers of beer, wine, water, energy drinks and soda in the streets, on the grass or under trees every week. Being a flower child of the 60’s, I really hoped that behavior went out of style in the 70’s.
I refuse to accept this trash mentality about the human spirit, somehow, we must be contributing to it. So instead of continuing to being infuriated about it, I have decided to turn the other cheek and become a part-time Garbage Collector. I bought an extra box of 80 tall kitchen bags (good ones on-sale for $6.99) for this purpose. For my next 80 walks in the morning, I will try to fill up at least one whole bag and put it in recycle trash each week.
By Memorial week it could go two ways; it might get worse, attracting a whole new army of trash throwers excited about the fool picking up the trash, or maybe, just maybe, the perpetrators will get the message. The Garbage Era is Over! We are not a Garbage Dump! We want it clean in our Community!
I will let you know.