Community members and business representatives are still searching for answers to two growing problems along Route 40 in Catonsville, even after a meeting last week with elected officials and government representatives.
State Sen. Delores Kelley, who represents District 10 which includes Catonsville, and 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk co-hosted a Sept. 10 meeting at Emmanuel Lutheran Church on Ingleside Avenue to discuss trashcans overflowing at bus stops and shopping carts from local businesses being abandoned throughout the community.
"This spring and summer, we just started to hear from all over the place," Kelley said. "We went out and have driven to some of the sites to take a look, and things are as bad as what you heard, and in some cases worse."
Sites of particular concern included the bus stops located in front of the Catonsville Walmart and Giant stores on Baltimore National Pike, the bus stop at Geipe Road a short distance away from the two stores at the intersection with North Rolling Road, and the bus stop at the intersection of Ingleside Avenue and Craigmont Road — right outside the church where the meeting was held.
These particular bus stops have constantly overflowing trash cans, residents said.
Because of their proximity to big stores such as Giant, Walmart and Sam's Club, people often abandon shopping carts at those stops. Those carts are then filled with trash and eventually overflow as well.
"I have even seen Pampers thrown in trash cans [at bus stops]," said Dorothy, a Woodlawn resident who said she regularly rides the Maryland Transit Authority buses into Catonsville and asked her last name not be used.
She said she is constantly picking trash off the ground near the bus stops and disposing of it either at home or in another location.
"I think there needs to be something at the bus shelters warning or encouraging people not to trash the bus stops," she said.
Representatives from the Maryland Transit Administration, the State Highway Administration, Baltimore County Department of Solid Waste and Baltimore County Code Enforcement told those at the meeting a long-term solution is not close.
James Knighton, director of external affairs for MTA, said the contract for the company is responsible for emptying bus stop trash cans has expired and the MTA is in the process of hiring someone new.
"The state procurement process is very long and slow, so it will be a few months before we get a bidder," Knighton said. "That will be more of a solution at a future point in time, but that doesn't solve the problem in the short term and we know that."
Extra trash cans or additional visits by the MTA to empty the existing cans, he said, are not an option.
"Why can't we just put a[n extra] trash can at a bus stop and empty it? For us, that's a question of resources and manpower and having the personnel to do it," Knighton said.
Wandering shopping carts
Representatives from Giant, Safeway, Sam's Club and Walmart also addressed residents' complaints about the increasing number of shopping carts found away from store premises.
Safeway uses a computerized lock system installed on one wheel of each cart which prevents carts from being removed from the store's parking lot.
The Giant store manager said two people have been assigned for every shift from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to gather the carts throughout the parking lot, and now, from the bus stops as well.
Judy Leonard, the store manager at the Catonsville Sam's Club — located on Ingleside across the street from where the meeting was held — gave her cell phone number to the residents at the meeting so they could report sightings of missing carts from her store.
"I'm going to make sure things happen," Leonard said. "I want to support the community. Every day I'm going to have my associates checking for carts that have strayed."
Though no permanent arrangement was reached between the residents and the businesses, Kelley said she was pleased with the outcome of the meeting, which more than 40 residents attended..
"I think we heard enough to get a better scope of the problem," she said. "We're looking at the notes that everybody took, based on what the experts told us about the problems as the citizens have raised them.