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Tucson could ask inmates to clean up city

Inmates would remove large trash dumped in alleys
Posted at 5:36 PM, Sep 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-20 12:56:38-04

Peek down the alleys of the neighborhood near 22nd Street and Rosemont in Tucson and it doesn’t take long to find ruined furniture from just about every room in the house. 

In just one block, people have left: an old, broken desk, a toilet, rotting mattresses, an infant car seat, a recliner, an office chair, an old cooler, and a tire. All within sight of a playground. 

Outside Keith Nickerson’s back gate someone has dumped an entire living room set, “I’ve been upset about it for a long time and I was on the phone all day one time, I called everybody at the city but the mayor.”

Nickerson and his neighbor Ernesto Peres, say as time goes by, the problem has piled up, “A lot of people come from another place, come and throw it in the alley,” said Peres.

Ward Three City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich has asked the council to discuss the problem at its meeting this week, “It's a blight and anytime there is trash or graffiti it sends the wrong signal,” she said. “Tucsonans take great pride in our neighborhoods.”

The council will discuss the possibility of contracting with the Arizona Department of Corrections to have supervised inmate crews clear these messes. Initial estimates place the cost about $25,000 to launch a pilot program. The money would come from city litter fees. 

“I’ve always thought things like that are good because we always need someone willing to do a job others aren't willing to do,” said Joseph Rivera, who says people often dump their large trash near his home. He says it often stays for months.

“I really do think we've seen an increase in just items left at curbs randomly and it's a real blight and there’s a lot of concern from residents that we take care of it,” Uhlich says she’d support the inmate work program if it’s safe and cost effective.

“At this point I don’t care who picks it up,” said Nickerson. “I just want it out of here.”