The Seattle Parks Department has responded to our coverage of this weekend’s overflowing trashcans in Cal Anderson Park calling the situation a ‘perfect storm’ for greater than usual garbage problems in the park.
Here is the mail we just received from the Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad. “Plans are in place to ensure that another situation like the one this past weekend does not repeat itself,” Hammerstad writes.
Overflowing trashcans at this weekend at parks were the result of a perfect storm of three different events: 1) furloughs; 2) peak-season employees not having started yet; and 3) great weather.
As has been mentioned in many a press release, all Parks employees will take 10 days of unpaid leave this year. As a result, there was no trash pick up on Friday, which put our weekend maintenance crews behind schedule from the start. We have intentionally skipped July and August as those are our busiest months, and will therefore decrease the impacts to park users. These furloughs save Seattle Parks and Recreation almost $2.1 million a year, and prevent employees from losing jobs. None of us wants to take furlough days, but when we do, there are inevitable impacts.
Between late September and early May, Seattle Parks and Recreation has a skeleton crew working on the weekends – just two people on Saturday and Sunday. We begin what we call our “seasonal” shifts in mid-May. This year, those shifts actually begin this week, and continue until Sept. 28. This gives us a much greater degree of maintenance coverage to correspond with our peak park-use period.
And, of course, the weather was beautiful. As the weather desks at the tv stations reported, it had been more than 2 months since we’d had what can technically be termed as a “mostly sunny” day. People were itching to get outside and enjoy their parks, which is great. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the maintenance staff to support that level of park use.
As you mentioned, there was at least one special event this weekend at Cal Anderson Park: Eeyore’s Birthday. When special events are permitted in a park, they agree to pick up all the trash generated from their event.
We take full responsibility for our part of the state of the parks this weekend. Plans are in place to ensure that another situation like the one this past weekend does not repeat itself. As soon as our crews came in on Monday morning, attending to overflowing trash cans was priority #1.
However, we need the community’s help to ensure that our parks are clean, safe and habitable for everyone. As you note in your story, packing it out when you see that a trash can is full is a great idea. Bringing along a trash bag, and picking up trash as you see it, is another great one.
Note: Picture only tangentially related. But funny.