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Rick Kriseman: Lack of blue bin refusals shows residents do want recycling

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The first round of universal curbside recycling pickup begins at the end of this month. Front and center of the program has been the criticism surrounding the program.

Residents have to pay for it whether they use it or not.

The large, rolling blue bins are an eye sore.

There’s no alley pickup.

The government is forcing us to do something we didn’t ask for.

But St. Pete Mayor wants residents to know not everyone is unhappy with the upcoming program.

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“Nearly 70,000 recycling bins have already been delivered in St. Pete,” Kriseman wrote on Facebook. “Sanitation has received 224 phone calls refusing a bin.”

“Bottom line: people are excited about universal, single-stream curbside recycling,” he continued, adding the hashtag “perspective.”

Kriseman posted his comment Wednesday morning. By 3 p.m. there were more than 45 comments. Most of them are in favor of the program.

Even most of the comments criticizing the program are still supportive of the concept; they’re just asking the city to reconsider picking up recycling in alleyways where available.

And some of the concerns are an easy fix.

“Hate the ugly thing in my front yard,” wrote Melanie Toppe. “Please do something about this.”

Facebook user Matt Jackson replied, explaining that the bin, like the black trash containers, is meant to be kept “in the back until pickup day.”

But Toppe explained her trash is picked up from the alley.

“Our yard has locked fences on both sides. [It] will be a pain in the tush to have to unlock 2 gates, drag it through the side yard and back,” she wrote, echoing concerns from many residents in the 40 percent of St. Pete homes with alley trash collection.

But the kicker is, Toppe also explained she is an elderly resident. For people like her, there is an option. If Toppe can obtain a medical note from her doctor explaining a hardship in moving the container, the city will do it for her. For free.

And as for other complaints from folks who want alley pickup, City Council is set to address that at their meeting Thursday.

In the meantime, Kriseman’s Facebook post has been shared six times with comments like, “happy to see that this program has officially launched” and “the bins represent a city committed to its future, to moving forward in sustainable and conscientious ways.”

Kriseman’s communication director, Ben Kirby, shared the post, pointing out it’s a “big, city-wide program,” seemingly acknowledging there will be bumps in the road.

“But the good-news stories are happening at the neighbor-to- neighbor level – and they are why #StPete is awesome,” Kirby wrote.

For more information about the program and recycling pickup dates, check out the city’s special curbside recycling web page.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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