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County executive dumps plan to remove garbage cans from Howard public parks Proposal had been offered to reduce cleanup costs


Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker has trashed a proposal to remove garbage cans from the county's parks.

Residents should not have to carry out their own refuse when they use public parks, Mr. Ecker said.

"We ought to make it convenient for them," he said.

Earlier, the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks had proposed removing garbage cans as a way to save money, encourage recycling and promote citizen stewardship of the parks. Certain cans would have remained, such as those near concession stands.

As recently as Friday, Recreation and Parks Director Jeffrey Bourne said the proposal would save his department $200,000 to $250,000 a year in trash cleanup. He described the proposal as a way to "build up those nickels and dimes that we're going to have to pinch."

He was referring to an austerity plan Mr. Ecker unveiled in September in which he asked departments to cut their budgets by 12 percent over the next two years. Already, Mr. Bourne and other department heads are looking for areas to cut.

But Mr. Ecker told The Sun Monday that he did not support removing the garbage cans. He was particularly concerned that dog walkers who are supposed to clean up after their dogs would have no place to put the waste.

Yesterday, Mr. Ecker and Mr. Bourne met. "We're not taking them out," Mr. Ecker said after the meeting. "That may be something down the road. But right now we're not taking them out."

Mr. Bourne could not be reached for comment yesterday. As a department head, he reports directly to Mr. Ecker.

Last week, Mr. Bourne described how, by shifting duties around, he could save money for his department.

The move would involve assigning some garbage workers to do maintenance work with recreation programs such as camps and softball leagues, for which the county charges relatively modest user fees. The salaries of the garbage workers then could be paid by slight increases in fees.

There are five countywide parks in Howard, each larger than 100 acres. They are Cedar Lane Park, Centennial Park, Rockburn Branch Park, Savage Park and Schooley Mill Park.

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