Girard mayor wants boxes for donated clothes out of sight

By jeanne starmack


The clothes-donation drop-off box in the parking lot at the Family Dollar store was neat and clean Wednesday morning.

At the side of the parking lot in front of the Everyday Mart farther down State Street, another donation box also was tidy and brightly painted.

But the boxes scattered throughout the city aren’t always so good-looking. There are times when Girard Mayor Jim Melfi has seen them a mess, with bags of clothes and other junk piled up around them.

So he’s asked the city council to consider legislation to ban them from the front of businesses to the back.

Even better, he believes, is if they would be fenced in so that any residents behind the businesses wouldn’t be stuck looking at them.

The legislation is in committee, and he expects it will be brought onto the floor at the council’s meeting in September, he said Wednesday.

“Fifteen years ago, the city spent $2.5 million to bury utilities underground in conjunction with the widening of Route 422 to make it more pleasing aesthetically,” he said.

“Now we have a situation where these bins are just out there, and they attract debris,” he said.

Companies typically pay $50 a month to landlords, many of them out-of-town, for the right to leave the donation boxes on their properties, Melfi said.

One company refused to remove its box after the business, a McQuaid’s gas station on Second Street, shut down about two years ago.

“From the gas station there was just debris everywhere, blowing in people’s neighborhoods,” Melfi said.

The city called the company, Planet Aid, and told it to come and get its box.

“I called several times,” said city zoning supervisor Pete Cardiero, adding that all the company would tell him was that it had the right to leave it there with the property owner’s permission.

But the business was gone, Cardiero said, and the property was in foreclosure. The city removed the box and threw away the contents. It no longer has the box, either.

Planet Aid did not return a call to its Cleveland office for a comment.

The manager at the Family Dollar said she has never noticed clothes piling up around the box there, and she doesn’t notice if it’s used very much or how often clothing is picked up.

That box is owned by an entity called the Children’s Disease Research Foundation of Fremont, Calif. It was unable to be reached through its phone system.

The box in front of the Everyday Mart is owned by H & M Recycling, a Long Island, N.Y., company. It could not be reached.

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