City meets with business owners over excessive alley trash

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COLUMBIA - Trash in a downtown Columbia alley is building up, and one landlord is not happy about it.

Arnie Fagan owns Rally House, as well as the apartments at 806, 808, and 810 East Broadway. Fagan said the city removed a trash compactor from his alley and replaced it with several dumpsters. 

"It's creating a lot of different problems for the residents and owners," Fagan said. "By putting the dumpsters here, they have narrowed the alley and that has caused a problem where pedestrians cannot get through."

Fagan also said that due to the tight space, the trash trucks are having to squeeze into the alley.

"A truck smashed into my electrical panel knocking that loose," Fagan said.

About 50 feet from his apartment building is a small sub-alley that was once the location of the trash compactor. The space is rented by the city, and what remains is the track that once held the compactor. 

Fagan said the city should move the trash dumpsters into that alley.

"That's where the trash needs to be, that's where the recycling needs to be," Fagan said. "It's cleaner and safer for everyone."

Cynthia Mitchell, Columbia's solid waste utility manager, said the compactor was removed due to building damage.

"With that in mind, and the repeat issues over the years, we just decided to remove that," Mitchell said. "That was not in the agreement with some of the building owners."

Fagan said he believes the city has not been responsive to his complaints regarding the dumpsters.

"There seems to be no leadership at the city that is able or is interested in solving this problem they're creating," Fagan said.

Mitchell, Fagan, and other building and business owners met in the alley Monday to discuss their concerns and how to find a compromise. 

Mitchell said the tight turn from the alley to the trash compactor in the sub-alley has made it difficult to safely move the compactor.

"It has to make a 90 degree angle to get out of here, so it has shifted or jerked in that process and might have hit the building in the process," Mitchell said. "I've never seen it personally myself, but it has overtime."

Mitchell also said this arduous process puts the city's drivers at risk.

"We felt like it was putting our drivers in harm's way to have them doing that regularly," Mitchell said. 

Fagan said he wants the city to move the dumpsters out of the alley.

"I don't care where they go," Fagan said. "These business owners and building owners have spent a fortune to be here and to make this a clean and inviting place."

Following the meeting, Mitchell said that there was consensus among those in attendance to possibly create some sort of protection for the building to avoid further damage.

"If we can prove the protective plan for the building, then they would probably allow for it to come back," Mitchell said. "We would try to clean up the appearance of it with some artwork because it's right by where people go to eat."

Currently, there are around eight dumpsters in the alley for over 30 residents living in Fagan's building.