published Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Chattanooga's city landfill on Birchwood Pike cleans up its act

Residents who live off of Birchwood Pike have been complaining about mud, trash and debris from an adjacent landfill finding its way into their yards. Now the area is getting cleaned up.
Residents who live off of Birchwood Pike have been complaining about mud, trash and debris from an adjacent landfill finding its way into their yards. Now the area is getting cleaned up.
Photo by Dan Henry.

When you ask Betty Arendale how long she's lived on Birchwood Pike, she'll tell you all about how she and her husband built their home in 1963 after buying acreage in scenic Harrison.

But if you ask her about how long Chattanooga's city landfill has been next door, she's got a short answer: too long.

Arendale and others on Birchwood Pike have had their driveways filled with mud, their yards filled with trash and their homes pummeled by rocks for decades.

Garbage trucks and residents using the public landfill leave trails of sludge and rubbish as they come and go from the nearby hole full of trash.

But that may change.

Over the last few days, Arendale says she's seen some things she hasn't seen in long time -- cleanup crews.

The roads have been scraped and swept. Trash has been removed, and passing garbage trucks appear free of caked-on gunk.

"They did more in the last three or four days than they have in three or four years," Arendale said Friday.

The impetus for the spring cleaning, according to the city, is that Chattanooga has moved management of the landfill -- which is 20 miles outside the city's center -- from its Public Works Department to General Services.

Jim Templeton, director of General Services, said he hadn't heard any complaints. But when his department took over landfill maintenance on March 1, he wanted to clean up.

"We took it over and just saw some things that needed cleaning. We were just trying to be neighborly," Templeton said.

But that line doesn't ring true with District 9 County Commissioner Chester Bankston, who represents Harrison.

Bankston has been working to get the stretch of road cleaned for weeks, after hearing from residents in his district.

"I haven't talked to [the city] directly, but I called the state highway department, and the state called them. They told the state they had a pump broke. That was last week," Bankston said.

Despite what brought on the cleaning, Arendale is just glad to see grime-free asphalt on her street. After years of fighting the trash battle, she had lost hope.

"I just gave up on it, because I figured there wasn't any use," Arendale said.

Templeton said Friday the mud and debris on Birchwood Pike will be monitored on a day-to-day basis and cleaned as needed.

Bankston said he hopes that's true.

"We'll just have to wait and see," he said.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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