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Unclaimed trash littering unincorporated Kingston

Illegal trash dumping is a rising issue in unincorporated areas around the North End. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Illegal trash dumping is a rising issue in unincorporated areas around the North End.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

KINGSTON — A messy situation recently littered the town of Kingston.

Trash is dirty and nobody wants to deal with it, unless they have to.

Sure businesses and private residents take care of their own, incorporated townships provide service to city residents and the county takes care of trash on county property.

But what about garbage that falls into the "gray" area of who's ultimately responsible for its disposal in Kitsap's unincorporated communities?

"For the most part it's the local chambers that deal with it. I understand chambers have taken a responsibility," said Pat Campbell, senior program manager of the Solid Waste Division for Kitsap's Department of Public Works. "It's one of those gray areas, it's not really a county function. It's almost whoever chooses to put trash in the containers should be responsible for maintaining them."

In recent weeks Kingston chamber volunteers had about five "unclaimed" garbage cans dumped on their shoulders, and those putting trash in the containers were patrons of downtown businesses.

Kingston's downtown core is a tourist strong hold, with boutique shops, cafes and restaurants drawing people westward. It also serves as a transportation hub and has been designated an urban growth area for the county.

Being all these things at once, the downtown streets are often filled with foot traffic, and visitors and locals alike need a place to dispose of wrappers and drink cups while shopping.

Garbage cans are provided downtown for just such a purpose, but nobody actually owns the cans or has an account with one of the county's two organizations providing trash disposal services.

Parks and Recreation used to pick up trash from the suspect garbage cans downtown, but stopped doing so about three months ago. Parks does pick up garbage from county parks, including the three in Kingston. Parks director Chip Faver didn't return calls as to why the department made the decision to stop picking up the trash in Kingston, and Dori Leckner, senior Parks maintenance supervisor said she would not comment on the subject.

In the last three months abandoned litter has cropped up.

"It's a problem. I go for a walk every morning around 7 or 8 when nothing is really open yet and it looks like people put trash in the cans and over night the birds pull it out and don't put it back. They could really help if they put it back," said Greater Kingston Community Chamber of Commerce president and Port of Kingston Commissioner Pete DeBoer. "There's no public entity that has any money to come pick this up. Either we let it pile up on the street or take community pride and pick it up ourselves. We're hoping for No. 2."

DeBoer said one business owner grew so sick of the overflowing garbage can he picked it up and moved it down to the ferry dock.

Rebecca Pirtle District 1 Liaison for Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer, said nobody really knows when or how the decision came about that Parks and Recreation would pick up the trash.

“Parks and Recreation was picking up trash and decided to no longer pick up trash in Kingston so it came back to the county,” Pirtle said. “I asked who had jurisdiction and it’s nobody within the county. ... The citizens were asked and it was resolved.”

Trash disposal for unowned cans on public property in unincorporated Kingston is now the responsibility of residents.

DeBoer says the chamber is asking business owners near the trash cans to take responsibility for the garbage and to throw it in their own Dumpsters and if there's issues to come talk to the chamber and they'll work it out.

"I have a feeling the people will take care of things. That's why I live in a small town, because of the community," DeBoer said.

Citizen ownership or not, there still remains trash nobody wants to claim throughout the county.

In 2007 county crews cleaned up 57 tons of illegally dumped materials from 434 locations on county roads.

In 2008 county crews responded to and cleared a total of 451 illegal dumps including 616 tires, 300 odd pieces of furniture, 154 TV's and computers, 80 appliances and 1,092 miscellaneous bags.

Illegal dump pickups in 2008 cost $25,082, which the county paid for by funds from the Department of Ecology Community Litter Clean Up Program.

In recent years the Clean Kitsap program was instated to address trash and illegal dumping concerns, and it seems to be working.

In the first quarter of 2008, 111 illegal dumping calls were received and in the first quarter of 2009 only 72 calls came in, said Dave Peters, Kitsap County Solid Waste Recycling coordinator.

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