Fort Smith Neighborhood Wins Fight to Keep Trash in Alley

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A fight for one Fort Smith neighborhood to get their trash route changed is finally supported by city directors. Now the Department of Sanitation will have to reroute hundreds of homes.

People who live in Park Hill East say they want manual trash pick-up back instead of the new automated collection because the new route makes them keep their barrels in their front yards.

In the neighborhood, you’ll find just about every trash container trying to hide near a house.

"That's kind of what they alley way is for, so I don't really see the reason to move it to the front," says Adam Simlzell.

After only four months of using the automated service, several residents say it’s not for them. Tuesday night they won their battle with city directors to have it changed back.

"My wife seems to really like it because she's got the big trash cans and all the recycling, but I like it in the back because you don't have to have the cans, but they can't do the automated in the back because of the power lines," says Brian Carter.

The Fort Smith Department of Sanitation says they’ll have to reroute nearly 300 pick-ups and hire additional workers. Manual pick up takes three employees to operate while automated only takes one.

"They can collect between 600 and 750 households a day,” says Director Baridi Nkikheli, “The automated driver, that one person, can collect up to 1,200 homes in one day."

He says the automated service saves time and money. The department has also seen a decrease in work injuries.

Although some residents are satisfied with new decision, not everyone on the block is excited about the change.

"I love it,” says Vernita Keeton, “My husband loves it, you know, cause he can just step out in front, throw it in on Friday, just roll it to the street, that's it. I don't know why people complaining about it."

City officials say it will take about a month to switch from automated collection back to manual pick-up.

The Department of Sanitation says a majority of the city is already on the automated collection.

Those approved for the change will be notified about the switch within the next two weeks.