Community cries foul with trash pickup in St. John Parish
Published 12:09 am Saturday, July 9, 2016
LAPLACE — In some areas of St. John the Baptist Parish garbage stinks and no one seems to be picking it up.
Dozens of St. John residents have been calling their Council members, Parish President Natalie Robottom and have taken to community Facebook pages to complain about the lack of garbage pickup in recent months.
Progressive Waste Management holds the contract for local garbage pick up in the parish. In some areas, the company sub-contracts the work to other agencies.
While some residents offered praise for the workers who go the extra mile to help residents, others have complained about trucks passing piles of garbage, not picking up in some areas or missing scheduled pickup days completely.
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that St. John Communications Director Baileigh Rebowe Helm and Councilwoman Jaclyn Hotard have posted replies to residents on social media.
“We all know the garbage issues are completely unacceptable at this time,” Hotard wrote on her own Facebook page. “Please know that I share your frustration, to put it lightly.”
Hotard told L’OBSERVATEUR the post was a response to a number of complaints she has seen on social media and received personally.
“The job they’re doing is garbage,” Hotard said. “It seems like it’s been occurring over the last couple of months, but it has definitely taken a turn for the worse. I think it’s gotten worse in recent weeks.”
According to Hotard, Progressive’s contract requires the company schedule regular pick up days. If, for whatever reason, that day is missed, the company is supposed to pick up the next available day or may be subject to fines.
Robottom said the Parish is concerned with Progressive’s “inconsistent” service. “It’s only in certain areas, but it can change on any given day,” she said. “Sometimes it’s this section of LaPlace, sometimes it’s the Riverlands. Some areas have had no problems at all.”
Attempts to reach a spokesperson from Progressive were unsuccessful. A reporter’s recent call to the local dispatch resulted in a six-minute wait to speak to a representative and no response.
The St. John Parish Council is set to discuss the issue at Tuesday’s meeting, but they have done so before. In April of 2015, the Council heard similar complaints from residents and talked about how bad the service had gotten.
Hotard said one problem is the company that holds the garbage contract has changed hands several times over the length of the contract. Swdi Waste Management was originally awarded the parish contract in 2011. It was then sold to ISI, then Progressive Waste. That contract is set to expire July 31.
“I don’t want to speak for them, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the end of the contract,” Hotard said. “I don’t think they’re just packing up and leaving or anything.”
Robottom said her staff has been tracking complaints and has invited representatives from Progressive Waste to address the Council.
“They have promised to address the problem; however, we have continued to have problems,” Robottom said. “We have had our legal (department) look over the contract and there is a section that allows for penalties. We are keeping appropriate documentation and taking appropriate steps.”