A set of worn-out automo bile tires here. A moldy and soiled mattress there. A beaten and banged-up water tank amid shards of glass everywhere.
Those and other pieces of rancid trash and unsightly debris – when irresponsibly dumped on properties – pile up to create a serious public-health threat for individuals and a foul public image for communities.
After all, who wants their hometown to be branded a dump?
Certainly not Younsgstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown who this week launched a promising citywide offensive against the foul practice of illegal dumping.
We commend Brown and other city officials for this long-overdue, get-tough initiative. But in order for it to be as effective as possible, it must be greeted with full-throttle support and cooperation from city residents and the criminal justice system.
ILLEGAL DUMPS PROLIFERATE
The proliferation of makeshift dump sites throughout the city (and throughout many other areas of the Mahoning Valley) is sad to see, given the heightened public consciousness about litter control and responsible recycling.
But for whatever reason – cost, convenience, slothfulness – many individuals have no qualms about stooping so low as to intentionally threaten the health and well-being of their community.
Mayor Brown on Monday made it perfectly clear he’s had enough of it, and he’s not going to take it any more.
“No longer will we accept dumping in city neighborhoods,” the mayor declared at the site of a large pile of trash and debris outside a former Moose Club on Glenmont Avenue in the storied Brier Hill neighborhood on the city’s North Side.
Shortly after his announcement, the area was cleaned and the club razed.
That process easily can be repeated dozens and dozens of times over across the city. Each new dump site detracts from the ongoing progress made by the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and others in ridding blocks of blight and stimulating renewed pride and investment.
Residents who care about the quality of life in their city, therefore, must be vigilant in assisting solid-waste management and law-enforcement officials in their war on illegal dumping.
And while a growing number of surveillance cameras in the city have played a role in apprehending dumpers, many successful cases also result from tips from John and Joan Q. Public. Those witnessing such activity in the city or anywhere in Mahoning County should call police or the Green Team at 330-740-2060.
COSTS OF DUMPING ARE HIGH
After all, wholesale dumping costs a community dearly. The public health threats are many.
Abandoned tires that fill with rainwater are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes that can carry and transmit life-threatening diseases. The tires can also break down and seep into and pollute groundwater.
Elsewhere, unattended trash can be consumed by pets, which can cause their death. Broken glass invites cuts and infections.
Clearly then, for the sake of a city on the move and for the health of its residents and visitors, Mayor Brown’s initiative cannot be allowed to falter.
To succeed, however, it will also need the assiduous backing of all steps in the criminal-justice ladder from police officers to judges.
Toward that end, we’re pleased that Youngstown City Prosecutor Jeff Limbian has vowed to take a leading role. He said he and his staff will seek maximum penalties – not mere misdemeanor slaps on the wrist – for violators of dumping ordinances.
Those penalties can be severe. According to Ohio statutes, those found guilty of illegal dumping can face fines from $10,000 to $25,0000 and prison time of up to four years.
In addition, Limbian plans to recommend to judges that guilty parties also receive this most appropriate community-service component to their sentences : Clean up the filthy messes in the city they played a role in creating.
Collectively, the pieces appear to be well in place for a productive and ongoing citywide anti-dumping campaign. We urge judges to support the program with tough sentences and other communities in the Valley to follow Youngstown’s lead in its commitment to rid city neighborhoods of the dangers and decadence of dumping gone wild.