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Long-standing dump to get city's attention

by Paul Leakan


A heaping mountain of trash has been festering below Bill Williams' neighborhood in Clarksburg for as long as he can remember.

Williams, 18, said a hill stretching down below Clay Street toward Elk Creek has been a notorious site for locals to dump truckloads of garbage.

"That garbage can has been there since I was about 7," Williams said, pointing to a spot in the heap. "We used to throw rocks at it."

That rotting garbage has had plenty of company over the years.

Bags, boxes, bottles, buckets, cans, wooden planks, tires, a shopping cart, a furnace, a playground set and fluffs of white fiberglass blanket a long stretch of the sloping hill.

A local litter activist notified city officials about the site last week. City officials said something must -- and will -- be done to clean it.

Public Works Department Frank Scarcelli said he will work along with the Clarksburg City Council the next few days to devise a plan to clean the dump.

"It will have our immediate attention," City Manager Percy Ashcraft said.

Keeping people from dumping at the site is the first step in solving the problem, Ashcraft said. City officials then must put together a plan to clean up the area and investigate and prosecute illegal dumpers, he said.

Cleaning up the site, however, won't be easy, Scarcelli said. The site has never been cleaned before, he said.

"Just from what I can see, it's one of the biggest dumps we have to contend with," Scarcelli said. "If there's anything on that magnitude, we don't know about it."

The steep grade will likely make it impossible to clean the area without heavy machinery, he said.

"It's almost straight up and down. To say somebody could come there and pick it up by hand would be an almost impossibility," he said.

Keeping people from dumping there in the future may be even harder than cleaning the site, Scarcelli said. Whatever course of action the city decides on, prevention must also be a top priority, he said.

"It would be kind of foolish to clean it up and two or three years from now have it happen all over again," Scarcelli said.

At first glance, the site may not look as bad as some people say, Scarcelli said. Since only small pieces of trash poke through the trees and vines, the majority of the dump is obscured, he said.

Area residents said the thick foliage is their best ally in the summer and spring because it covers the mess.

What's not covered, however, is the smell.

Tim Smith, who lives a couple yards from the site on Clay and Maud streets, is sickened by the smell of the rubbish.

"It's like somebody threw a dead rat or something down there," Smith said.

While neighbors said they were tired of seeing and smelling the dump, Mayor Louis Iquinto, who lives a few blocks from the dump, is confident that the city can put an end to the problem.

"I'm sure that there's something we can do to clean that up," Iquinto said. "It's in our area, and I'm sure if it's bad, we can take care of it."