This morning, the Dallas City Council unanimously approved a $3.3 million contract, mostly for pulling tires from the Trinity River. Everyone agreed that the thousands of abandoned tires that litter the greenbelt (3,000 were recovered during a minor city-led cleanup last summer) need to be removed.
The discussion, then, turned to how to obviate the need for multi-million-dollar cleanups by keeping people from dumping them into the river in the first place.
The Trinity, it seems, was all but unguarded until June 2011, which is when Dallas city marshals began regularly patrolling the corridor and putting up a "limited number of physical barriers" -- gates and fencing to keep out unauthorized vehicles. "Those gates have been equipped with 'no dumping' signs and 'no motor vehicles' allowed, because that's a public education thing we felt like we needed," a representative of the marshal's office told the council.
To a certain extent, it seems to be working. Two years ago, marshals cited 21 vehicles found in unauthorized areas along the Trinity. That dipped to 18 last year. In the first quarter of the current fiscal year, the number was two.
Yet the tires keep showing up in the river, leading several council members -- Dwaine Caraway in particular -- to propose more drastic measures. Carolyn Davis, apparently unaware that well-known state and local rules require the proper disposal of scrap tires, suggested the city to "make people know they can recycle these tires. They don't have to dump them in the Trinity, dump them in neighborhoods."
Caraway, in turn, pushed for a more rigorous system for tracking tires that leave tire shops so that the city can be sure the tires are going to a licensed disposal site.
"I'm not anti-tire shops, but I am pro-tire control, because they change the tires every day. Every day. We need to know where those tires are going because they're going into the Trinity and they're costing the taxpayers money," Caraway said.
But that idea wasn't quite bold enough for Caraway, so he started spit-balling.
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"We can't afford to put a fence out around the Trinity, but maybe if we had some kind of wiring, just a stake and a wire where truck that's going" to dump tires wouldn't be able to get through. This would be "a wire you can't see, that wouldn't affect the beauty of the Trinity. Not a fence with a lot of wires, but just one wire.
"We just gotta come up with something creative."
Tire dumpers, you've been put on notice.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.