Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake threw the first ceremonial trash over the side of a raised platform into a bin below, as the city Tuesday unveiled a reconfigured Northwest Sanitation Yard that city officials said would give north Baltimore residents a "super citizen convenience center."
"Never has trash been so much fun," Rawlings-Blake said.
Until now, residents have had to hoist much of their trash and recycling into roll-off containers with apertures high above their heads. Rawlings-Blake said in many cases, it was impossible, "unless you were Hercules."
Even with budget cuts in a bad economy, "We are always looking for creative ideas to make things easier and more convenient for our residents," Rawlings-Blake said, before joining City Council President Bernard "Jack" Young, Public Works Director Alfred Foxx, City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clark and other elected officials and community leaders in cutting a ribbon at the bottom of the ramp to the platform.
"The challenge I put to (Public Works) is how do we make something great even better?" Rawlings-Blake said, referring to the longtime sanitation yard at 2840 Sisson St.
Other improvements announced include a new storage locker where residents can dispose of hazardous household waste on the last Friday and Saturday of each month, from April through November. That will negate the need for special collection events such as semi-annual hazardous waste dropoff days in the Poly-Western parking lot, a program the city scrapped as too expensive last year, but brought back this year by popular demand.
The center will also be the home for the Bureau of Solid Waste's Mechanical Street-Sweeping Operation. Ten new street sweepers will be housed at the center.
And, residents now can bring Styrofoam to the center for recycling, Public Works officials announced.
"This is just our little part to help you in your effort to keep Baltimore a cleaner place," Foxx said.
"What people are most excited about is that we now have hazardous waste collection on a regular basis," Clarke said.
But Judith Kunst, president of the Greater Remington Improvement Association, said not having to heave garbage up and into bins is also exciting to many area residents. She said a 4-foot-2 woman told her at GRIA's meeting Monday night, "I'm so happy I don't have to reach up anymore."
The ceremony was nostalgic for Young, who said he worked as a trash man at the Northwest Sanitation Yard in 1974.
"This is the yard where I started," he said.