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Illegal dumping woes ignite community efforts to catch dumpers, clean up

Illegal dumping
Posted at 11:26 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 00:26:43-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For some folks in Kansas City, Missouri, like President of Heart of the City Neighborhood Association Kathryn Persley, the ongoing narrative in her neighborhood is a never-ending story of trash.

“This is somebody's household, a remodel job," she said Wednesday pointing to the most recent load of garbage dumped in her neighborhood. "Somebody got a new refrigerator, and we got all their trash."

She calls the city about intersections like East 34th Street and Drury Avenue on a regular basis, but within a matter of a few days more trash inevitably shows up.

“I’m concerned about dumping, because it's just not healthy to live on top of trash,” Persley said. "I don't think it's dumping fees, because it doesn't cost that much to dump a truckload of debris."

Alan Ashurst is one of six illegal dumping investigators in KCMO who says the issue with Kansas City’s illegal dumping problem is so bad that it ranks among the top five priority topics for the city, which budgets $2 million a year to clean up illegally discarded trash.

"We'll get folks coming from Lee's Summit down (Missouri) 150, folks from Grandview,” Ashurst said.

Surveillance video released this week by the KCMO Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department from a business at East 14th Street and Jackson Avenue shows someone having their kids get out and do the dumping for them.

"That's a learned behavior," Ashurst said. "This is not the first time I've seen a car pull up and a child get out and throw trash, so some of these people are like, 'This is just how you get rid of your trash in a pinch.'"

Another video recorded by one of the city’s 26 surveillance cameras at known dumping sites shows three men and a woman chucking debris from a trailer.

"I think it's a lot more to do with self-respect," Ashurst said. "Folks that don't have any self-respect aren't going to respect you or me, your community, your neighborhood, your city."

According to Persley, calling the city to clean up or even investigate doesn’t prevent illegal dumping from happening again.

"I think they should be made to come and clean up the trash and maybe forfeit their vehicle something,” Persley said, "because literally the trash dump is less than a mile from here."

A 3rd District Cleanup is scheduled in Persley's neighborhood from from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

KCMO residents who find trash illegally dumped in their neighborhood can call 311 to have the city come and clean it up.

If you see someone illegally dumping or have video of it happening and can provide a license plate number, residents are encouraged to call 816-513-DUMP (3867) to have an investigator come out. Violators can face fines for illegal dumping.