By Brian Stone
Dearborn, Mich. — On fences, fields, streets and side lots an invasive, unwanted species is multiplying: Litter.
It’s everybody’s problem and everybody’s eyesore all at once. It’s seen growing in places once thought unthinkable.
Dearborn was once known for neighborhood cleanup parades and a totalitarian approach to oppressing oddiments. While the fine for littering hasn’t changed since the Hubbard years, it’s clear that the enforcement of those rules has.
In the playground at the Dearborn Civic Center, children slide up and down equipment as disposable containers, their contents long-since sucked out by some stranger, are scattered across the grass.
Residents resent the residue. In the COVID-era it’s dangerous, disgusting and it affects our quality of life.
Meredith Gorden, a local insurance agent, had a nasty run-in with some particularly rude rubbish. She parked her car in the lot by the Butcher’s Grille in West Dearborn and a vape pen punctured her car tire.
Surveying the damage, Gorden said, “I just can’t have nice things, can I?”
No – no you can’t, Meredith. None of us can – because this city just doesn’t care anymore.
On a recent video, walking through another parking lot in Dearborn, Gorden counted more than 29 disposed vape pens polluting an area barely a few parking spaces wide. During the pandemic, the idea of picking up something other people stuck their mouths on isn’t just disgusting – it can be dangerous.
Dearborn’s trash problem is ubiquitous. From the West End, to the East End, to the South End, trash is sprouting in all the nooks and crannies faster than dandelions.
On a stretch of road where Greenfield and Michigan Avenue intersect, little white pieces of paper and plastic cling to some half-dead grass like a symbiotic scrap-flower, jiggling in the wind as cars breeze by.
As the city seems incapable or uninterested in its most basic cleanliness, residents are forced to take the law – and the litter – into their own hands.
A group of boy scouts recently spent half a day cleaning up trash near a local church. In a short time, they had several garbage bags of trash filled up. “How nice!” we say – except the rest of the city was still sprouting high with sediment.
The problem is too big for any one person, or even a group of people, to handle. And some city services have come to exemplify the way we’ve hit rock-bottom with our rummagings.
Our trash contractor – Green For Life – is getting a name for itself as the Dearborn debris distributor extraordinaire. Trash ends up spread across the streets and lawns of Dearborn on trash day, as the trucks leave a crumb trail of crud so long that even the rats raise their little noses at it. But hey – aren’t you so glad they saved us money, agreeing to that lowest-cost bid?
Trash today – trash tomorrow – trash everyday! The trash is our new constant. The Zen of trash – that’s how you find peace in Dearborn. Or, at least – pieces.
The city needs to get on the job. They need to hire more people for enforcement and start addressing the flowering of filth all over the city.
Our trash-tastrophy is a direct result of policies that treat our parks, neighborhoods and everyday services like an afterthought compared to public safety.
And maybe that’s something our mayoral candidates should consider next time they promise unspecified, unpaid tax cuts for wealthy landowners while the rest of us drown in detritus. I think we’d all be happier paying our taxes if we got to live in a city that looks like it cares.
Hell, raise my taxes – please! Just pick up the trash and give somebody a ticket. That’s all I’m asking for. That, and maybe a few less vape pens.
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