WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — The city of Waterbury has a trashy problem — litter. You can see pieces of garbage downtown — cups and food wrappers blowing in the wind.
On Cherry Street, you can see parts of an old television set among weeds and food wrappers blowing on the ground next to flowers. It bothers residents, especially if trash pops up in the park — like Hamilton Park — home of ducks and geese and bottles and cups that now occupy part of the same beautiful pond. It also has a playground for kids. That’s where we met one angry mom.
“When I come to the park to play with my child there is lots of litter,” she said. “Sometimes you find needles and stuff like that.”
“It bothers me a lot,” said Louis V., another Waterbury resident.
Waterbury has litter laws. A member of the city’s Litter and Beautification Committee told News 8 if police catch you littering, it could be a $215 fine. The fine jumps $100 if you’re caught littering downtown at — or near — the Waterbury Green. However, the mayor confirms to News 8 that Waterbury Police have only issued one litter citation in 2016 and one the year before. The mayor says don’t think that low number of citations means the city doesn’t take the problem seriously. It does.
“Everyday litter is a challenge for us and we spend a lot of resources and money cleaning up litter every single day,” Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary said.
Louis says he sees cleaning crews out at Hamilton Park everyday and says they do a good job trying to keep the park clean and looking good. Mayor O’Leary says the city also sends out street cleaning crews to hit the downtown area with a machine that serves as a vacuum — sucking up the trash. But, when it comes to trying to catch litterbugs in the act — the mayor says that could take up valuable police time.
“Our police department is among, I think, the greatest in the state,” the mayor said. “But they have pressing issues everyday……..It’s unrealistic, I believe, for the public to expect police officers to do that. What needs to happen is that individuals have to be accountable to themselves to not litter and to teach our youngsters that littering is not acceptable.”