Merchants seek solution to trash troubles

HARPERS FERRY – Lower town Harpers Ferry merchants and restauranteurs say a decision by the town to replace a proposed dumpster pad with parking will result in them having no place to leave their waste during the busy summer season.

[cleeng_content id="473358633" description="Read it now!" price="0.15" t="article"]Richard Shaffer, the owner of Secret Six Tavern, told town officials at a sometimes contentious meeting Friday that businesses should have been consulted when the town made the decision to get rid of the trash disposal facilities they rely on to prepare for the development of the Potomac Street Project, which promises to beautify the somewhat neglected side street.

“We’ll turn 100 or 150 people every hour on a summer weekend, and that is a lot of trash,” Shaffer said. “I don’t think you guys comprehend the volume of trash that is generated down here.”

Richard Shaffer, standing, said Harpers Ferry’s decision to remove dumpsters that lower town merchants and restaurateurs use for trash disposal will cause problems with their being able to dispose of waste.

Richard Shaffer, standing, said Harpers Ferry’s decision to remove dumpsters
that lower town merchants and restaurateurs use for trash disposal
will cause problems with their being able to dispose of waste.

The initial version of the Potomac Street Project would have involved constructing a new enclosure to house the dumpsters, but later versions eliminated them entirely, opting instead to provide additional parking, according to town counsel member Betsy Bainbridge.

Mayor Joe Anderson said the dumpsters were written out of the project because they were regarded as a nuisance.

“They weren’t considered to be a desirable part of the project,” he said. “Looking more closely, there really isn’t room for them to be properly serviced.”

Town officials say there have been problems with the dumpsters being improperly maintained. Where county health regulations call for dumpsters to be placed atop concrete pads, the dumpsters currently sit on bare ground, often in standing water, and partially occupy Park Service property.

“We can’t approve a plan that keeps the dumpsters on Park Service property,” said council member Dan Riss.

Shaffer said the town should have penalized dumpster owners that were not properly maintaining their facilities and that businesses should have been consulted before changing the project.

“I think it was poorly thought out, and poorly planned,” Shaffer said. “I’ve spoken with an attorney about getting an injunction against this whole plan. To stop it until we figure out what we are going to do. It surprises me that you guys aren’t thinking about it.”

Anderson said the newly revamped street may not be wide enough for a garbage truck to maneuver to pick up the dumpsters, or to turn around when it is finished. “Theoretically, you could put them in the place where the new parking is to be located, but you would still have the same problem,” he said.

Both sides said they will continue to discuss the matter. Town officials said the merchants would not have to worry about the dumpsters being removed this summer since they are still figuring out how to bridge a $200,000 gap between the project’s estimated costs and funds available.

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