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Committee formed to recommend ways to rid Springfield of litter

Paul Tuthill
Springfield Ward 6 City Councilor Victor Davila announces the creation of a committee to recommend ways to rid the city of litter. Joining him are committee members ( l-r) Russ Seelig, Councilor Davila, Amy Zoe, and Erica Swallow, who will chair the committee.

The ad-hoc group plans to deliver a final report in early 2023

The ubiquitous and seemingly intractable problem of litter is being looked at once again in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Springfield City Councilor Victor Davila announced Monday the creation of a committee to make recommendations to the Council and the administration of Mayor Domenic Sarno on how to address the problem of litter.

“This has been an issue that has gone on for a while and it is time to take action,” Davila said.

The Ward 6 Councilor said he’s received a growing number of calls from people concerned with the presence of litter – such things as paper coffee cups, plastic bags, and the tiny alcohol bottles known as “nips” – in high traffic areas of the Forest Park neighborhood and in the park itself.

“Litter has health implications and it also speaks to the pride of the city and overall quality of life,” Davila said.

Seven people volunteered to serve on the committee. Davila called them “great dedicated people.”

Davila said he is hoping for “out of the box” solutions.

Chairing the advisory committee is Erica Swallow, a realtor in Springfield. She said they plan to get to work without delay.

She said a public roundtable is tentatively scheduled for late January with the committee looking to issue its final report by the end of March.

Another member of the committee is Russ Seelig, who helped found more than 25 years ago the group Concerned Citizens for Springfield. He has long focused on issues of blight and trash which he said detracts from the city’s overall appeal and leaves a bad first impression with visitors to the city.

“As I drive around my neighborhood, I have to say I’m embarrassed,” Seelig said.

Last year, Concerned Citizens proposed a publicity campaign in Springfield to discourage littering and an anti-litter curriculum in the schools, but neither has happened.

Several years ago, the city started putting motion-activated cameras at locations that had become popular dumping sites for old mattresses, furniture, tires, and plastic bags filled with trash. The locations monitored, which change from time-to-time, are not disclosed.

Disposing of trash illegally in the city carries a maximum fine of $300.

The city DPW offers a bulk items pickup program. For an $8 fee, the city will haul away furniture, mattresses and box springs, appliances, large toys, and tires.

Springfield is one of several cities in the state to have banned single-use plastic bags at retail stores.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.