Nothing on the Kenai Peninsula heralds the end of winter and the beginning of summer so much as the annual community cleanup.
Cleanup week in central peninsula communities begins Tuesday, but there are other cleanup activities throughout May that hold the potential to have neighborhoods looking better than ever.
One of those is the borough's litter and abandoned vehicle cleanup. This pilot program will allow the public to take their junk vehicles to the Soldotna landfill at Mile 98.5 Sterling Highway and the closed Kenai landfill adjacent to the Kenai Transfer Facility on Redoubt Avenue. Vehicles from the public will be accepted May 11-20 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
There are a few rules that govern the drop-off:
Vehicles may not be delivered until the borough has been contacted and vehicle disposal forms are complete and on file. The forms are available at the Kenai and Nikiski transfer facilities, the Soldotna landfill, the borough's solid waste office on Poppy Lane or by calling 262-9667.
There will be a five-vehicle limit from any single property or location, business, organization or individual. Cities also will be limited to no more than five vehicles from one property or location.
The borough will take responsibility for removing batteries and fluids from vehicles, although all trash must be removed from the interior and trunk of the vehicles prior to drop-off.
Owners are responsible for getting their junked vehicles towed to an appropriate site.
In addition, the borough will target abandoned and junk vehicles and other garbage littering ditches and roadsides along borough-maintained roads. The borough is asking residents to remove their personal property from these areas prior to May 10.
Not only is this stuff an eyesore, the junk is a health and safety hazard. As much as anything else, it shows a lack of respect for the peninsula's landscape and the people who have to look at it every day.
Borough officials, however, are sensitive to the fact that what may be one person's trash is another's treasure. If one's prized possessions have strayed into borough property, however, they need to be moved. Those not moved will be tagged with a warning notice. If the vehicles then are not removed (within 48 hours for an abandoned vehicle and 24 hours for a junk vehicle), they will be towed. Certified letters will be sent to the last known property owner requesting the vehicle be picked up. If after 30 days, no response has been received, the vehicle becomes borough property. Those wishing to retrieve their vehicle during the 30-day waiting period will be responsible for all costs associated with towing and impounding.
The borough will focus its collection efforts on vehicles impeding borough services; vehicles creating health or safety concerns; and vehicles creating an unsightly mess or public nuisance. Vehicles recovered from the cleanup project will be crushed and hauled to a recycling market.
The borough's effort to get rid of some of the junk cluttering the peninsula's beauty should be applauded -- and used. Borough officials stress that this is a pilot program, and they don't know what the response will be. They don't want people disappointed if their "favorite" eyesore isn't part of the effort this year. There are, after all, limited funds available. Nevertheless, it's a step in the right direction to sprucing up the peninsula. If you have a site you would like the borough to consider, call 262-9667.
Interestingly, the most frequent question the borough's solid waste office receives is: How do I get my neighbors to clean up their yard?
There's no easy answer to that question, but sometimes a neighborhood cleanup can serve as an inspiration. The neighbors whose yard has grown into an informal junkyard may be physically or financially unable to clean up the property. Then, again, that junk may be their treasure. The borough, however, cannot target private property in its cleanup.
The borough's litter and abandoned vehicle effort complements other cleanup activities, including:
Community Cleanup Week, which is scheduled Tuesday through May 7. The event is sponsored by the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce, the borough and Peninsula Sanitation. Bags can be picked up at the chamber offices from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Peninsula Sanitation will collect bags placed along main roads using the following schedule:
Tuesday: Greater Soldotna area -- the Kenai Spur Highway to Strawberry Road;
Wednesday: North Road to Neighbors Drive; Beaver Loop to Strawberry Road;
Thursday: Greater Kenai area -- Swires Road to Lilac Drive;
Saturday: Sterling Highway from Sterling to Kasilof;
May 7: K-Beach and Kasilof.
Those participating in the cleanup are asked to follow the schedule; if you miss the pick-up day for your area, please dispose of the bags yourself.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Employee Cleanup, which is scheduled for May 11. Borough employees will take half a day and help clean up areas that were missed in the community cleanup.
Community Cleanup Day, which is sponsored by Unocal Alaska and hosted by the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce. The event is set for May 19 and will focus on cleaning up the cities of Kenai and Soldotna. Unocal donated $12,000 to fund the cooperative effort between the residents of the two cities. Teams of three people or more will participate in cleaning up specific zones assigned by the chambers. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three garbage collector groups in each city. Teams must register at either the Kenai or Soldotna chamber office before May 19. Free T-shirts will be given to each team that pre-registers.
That's a whole lot of cleaning going on in the central peninsula in the next few weeks. Hats off to all those spearheading the different projects and those who will participate.
The peninsula landscape is breath-taking; it will be even more so as we clear the clutter from the view.
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