By David Denson, Chicago Crusader
The city of Gary is launching a campaign on illegal dumping.
“Our message today is that we are not going to keep cleaning up and have folks keep dumping and not hold people accountable,” said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson during a press conference at City Hall on Tuesday.
During the meeting, Freeman-Wilson spoke with citizens who expressed concerns about the need for a clean, safe city.
“They don’t talk about these things in the abstract, but in a coordinated effort. Our city looks better, and they deserve to have a clean city,” Freeman-Wilson stated.
Gary will kick off its 90-day illegal dumping campaign on July 1; it will end in September. The theme of the campaign is “All Eyes on You.”
“Our inspectors will be involved, along with the police department, as well as all those engaged in the city working. We also need those in the neighborhoods to pay attention to what’s going on,” added Freeman-Wilson.
In addition to the efforts by enforcement agencies, the city plans to use surveillance cameras to identify violators. Those caught violating the dumping laws will be prosecuted in the City Code Enforcement Court. First-time offenders may be hit with a $2,500 fine; $7,500 for second-time offenders, community service or jail time.
“If someone is caught in the act of illegal dumping, they will be arrested and their vehicle will be towed,” warned Freeman-Wilson.
During the campaign, the city will address the illegal dumping of tires and will focus on areas where car repairs are being done to ensure that there is no tire dumping.
Abandoned cars are also being targeted and will be ticketed or towed during the process. “These things impact the neighborhood and how the community looks,” Freeman-Wilson stated.
She went on to say, “We want to make it as easy as possible, and our first ‘Dumpster Day’ will take place in each district of the city. It will allow citizens to simply go in their neighborhood or their district to dump items.”
As part of the initiative, the city-sponsored Dumpster Day begins July 7 and runs through July 10. Dumpster Day provides residents an opportunity to clean up around their homes and get rid of unwanted household items.
Dumpsters will be located at Melton School, 4581 Fillmore Street. Residents who miss Dumpster Day can take debris to D&R Site Services, 7105 W. 5th Avenue. For hours of operation, call 219-944-4999.
“We are taking this seriously, and while we will ask for maximum fines, our major interest is in having it cleaned up. We have pride in our community. The majority of citizens have pride in our community, and we want to make sure others treat our community like they have pride in our community,” stated Freeman-Wilson.
Clean-up and maintenance efforts are ongoing. In addition to the illegal dumping program, the city conducts its 5×5 Clean Up Program and the Blight Busters initiative.
To report illegal dumping sites, citizens are urged to call the city’s information hotline at 219-881-1311. To report illegal dumping in progress, call Lake County’s Non-Emergency hotline at 219-660-0000.