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The Tentacle


November 17, 2014

Trash Talking in Brunswick

Jill King

One day while walking down the street, mom and I got into a discussion about who should be walking closest to the road. Since she is elderly, it was natural for me to decide that she was less alert and that I should be on the outside to protect her.

 

She laughed and told me that this wasn't the way it had always been.

 

Long ago, the men walked next to the street because there was less traffic in towns and even less manners to dispose of refuge. This protected women and children from items like dirty water or slop that was flung out the windows and into the street, while hitting people on the sidewalk.

 

Years ago, people didn't waste food, they tried to make their products last – most built by hand and typically didn't have as many knick knacks as what people of future generations accumulated. They were not wasteful in spending and were able to live off of their land – or shop at local specialty goods stores.

 

The town of Brunswick has always been rich with history. As a railroad town and home to numerous veteran organizations, it has a surreal placement in the county. While being a visitor attraction for those who want to hike, enjoy the river, ride bikes or sit on the neighbor's porch and relax Brunswick has a definite appeal.

 

Unfortunately, while the city limits are growing, there is little economic growth, with numerous “For Lease” signs in business windows and slow progress to even get a grocery store there. The businesses there are great, a bakery, a couple coffee shops, specialty shops, and a few chain stores.

 

Most of Brunswick is dependent on travel to other outlying areas for goods and services, especially in their adopted twin Lovettsville, VA. Many go to Super Walmart in Charles Town, WVA, to do their weekly shopping.

 

While crossing state lines for goods and services may be convenient for some, it hurts people who lack transportation without improving the tax base there. There are much larger issues with the management of the town, besides the mayor's one trick pony she has been looking to ram down people's throats for years.

 

The current Mayor of Brunswick has been looking into zero waste trash solutions. Before being voted in as mayor, Karin Tome had been vocal publicly against Waste-to-Energy (WTE) and has insisted that the county should move forward with other solutions.

 

Since she was elected, the town has had more vacated buildings. While nothing seems to be accomplished, she has moved straight toward her goal of forcing recycling and composting on the masses there, although she claims it is just in the talking stages.

 

The first meeting wasn't properly advertised on the city’s website, until residents complained after finding out second hand. It is odd how zero waste opponents from around the county showed up for the meeting. Did they have a special invitation? Was the idea to stack the meeting with proponents to provide for good press? Of course, and The Brunswick Citizen and The Frederick News-Post fell for it, hook line and sinker.

 

It is great that this is a small town; word of mouth reaches people-in-the-know a lot faster than the failed website updates.

 

The first meeting was with Waste Zero, an organization for Pay-As-You-Throw, has a gimmick. It sells bags for $1 for small and $2 for large bags to put your trash in. The residents are then charged to have their trashed removed, dependent on volume not weight.

 

Trash is then removed from a municipal taxing status and people are charged based on their output.

 

Mayor Tome's husband has been trying to sell this as a conservative viewpoint. He states that he looks at this the same as an electric bill, should he pay for his neighbors electric bill based on their usage; or, if the neighbors car is a gas guzzler, should he pay for their gas?

 

Maybe we should get back to some basics and look at why a consolidated group of people become a municipality and what is considered basic services.

 

Would Mr. Tome advocate for people who have fires or police calls to be charged? Maybe he would like to charge a user fee for parks? Since they are also attempting to put in a doggie park, maybe they should only charge usage fees?

 

As a municipality, the first rule is to define basic public services that go above and beyond those offered in the county. Much of these come from making the city attractive for a destination; people are better served by a uniform manner of supplying mass services that promote health, safety and welfare of the community.

 

Trash collection is a basic service that promotes the health and well being of a municipality, one that is necessary for the rich or poor of the area. It serves small businesses, public spaces and residents for the betterment of the community.

 

Without trash collection, some people will find other manners to dispose of waste along the river, in business dumpsters, dropping it off on a dirt road out of city limits or just hoarding until they can afford to dispose of it properly.

 

Mayor Tome of Brunswick claims these are just preliminary talks, although it appeared she was trying to slide it in under the nose of many residents who oppose it.

 

It is important to be transparent about the issue in order to have an outcome that benefits the entire municipality.

 

This is one part of a series about trash talk and the numerous talking points, recycling, composting, and other alternatives and resolutions.

 

Retraining my brain for the future, conferring with the past...

 

jill.king234@gmail.com

 



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