Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
Roanoke’s way of getting the trash cans and trucks off the City Market’s streets doesn’t please everyone. But it offers some dining advantages.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
CORRECTION: Businesses can empty up to four 96-gallon loads of garbage per week for free into downtown Roanoke’s new trash compactor, with two cans per each use of the compactor. Each additional use of the compactor in the same week will cost the business $1 each. The number of free uses of the trash compactor was incorrect in the original editorial.
Restaurateurs in Roanoke’s Historic City Market pretty much agreed the city’s daily curbside trash pickup stank, being as the garbage trucks made their rounds during business hours.
Complaints haven’t ended, though, now that a solution is in place: a trash compactor in the core of the central business district. Businesses now can, and must, dump their trash at their own convenience — free for the first four 96-gallon cans per week, $1 each thereafter.
Even at that, some restaurant owners say they’re paying more because of labor costs, while dealing with an added hassle and extra liability.
Roanoke isn’t likely to go back to curbside service, though — nor should it. City taxpayers and the environment both benefit from the new system. Well-used onsite recycling receptacles are producing savings.
Yet the city cannot turn a deaf ear to the restaurateurs whose businesses are the lifeblood of a City Market that’s alive after 5. No one wants to drive off small businesses, especially those that attract tourists and enhance the appeal of downtown living.
A solution might be in the offing.
The man in charge of Roanoke’s solid waste management, Skip Decker, expects the city to expand the compactor program.
Having more compactors, closer to restaurants dissatisfied with the new arrangement, could cut the hassle factor and the labor costs: On busy nights, workers stand in line to dump the refuse from the evening’s trade.
Adding compactors might solve two issues, but would leave a third: the question of liability. Business owners had to sign a release exempting the city from liability if an employee is injured operating the compactor, equipment the businesses neither own nor maintain. An attorney for the city says it cannot expose itself, i.e. taxpayers, to the risk of liability when city employees are not there to operate it.
At least one restaurateur is circulating a petition against the compactor. But in an era of shrinking government, the preferred solution — overnight curbside service — isn’t likely because the cost would fall on users. And it might be more than even the compactor’s harshest critics would be willing or able to pay.
The fee for regular curbside service did not cover its cost, Decker said. Overnight pickup is offered for a higher fee, but just till the end of the year. He said it’s just too expensive to maintain.
And the new system is better in some ways. It clears the streets of curbside trash bins and noisy garbage trucks during business hours, a benefit restaurants should not discount. Especially those able to offer dining al fresco by pushing seating out onto city sidewalks.
Al fresco sans garbage has got to add to the appeal.
Weather JournalRain is here; no snow