In the spirit of cleaning!
Some say robins or budding trees signal spring’s arrival. In Grand Junction, however, it could be argued spring hasn’t truly arrived until every city street is lined with garbage.
Starting Monday and continuing through April 26, nearly 50 city crew members will spend their days hauling off load after load of garbage during the city’s annual Spring Clean-up program.
Darren Starr, manager of streets, solid waste and storm water, has overseen the program for the past five years and said it is “definitely” the most popular program the city offers.
In fact, he added, it’s an internal city joke that it would be a cold day in you know where before the City Council ended the program.
“People look forward to it because it’s the opportunity to get rid of stuff,” Starr said. “Other people look forward to it because it’s the opportunity to find stuff.”
In this spirit, we offer this Spring Cleanup guide and scavenger hunt because, although the piles of garbage and people pilfering through them may annoy you, they aren’t going away, so have fun with it.
‘I’m from Rifle’
Although Starr doesn’t condone sifting through others’ garbage, and sometimes gets complaints about it from residents, it’s an inevitable part of Spring Cleanup.
But in his years working this program, the funniest question he’s been asked didn’t come from a local homeowner.
A man “called and asked when the program started. I asked him if he lived north of North Avenue or south of North Avenue,” Starr recalled. “He said, ‘No, I live in Rifle.’ That’s true. That’s a true phone call.”
A little history
Spring Cleanup has been going on for decades, according to Kristin Winn, city spokeswoman in public works and planning. She dug up a report from 1915 talking about the more than 1,100 loads of “trash and filth” disposed of in April to improve the city’s health and cleanliness.
“I grew up north of Fruita and always wondered what would our city look like if we didn’t do this program?” Starr asked. “Where would this stuff end up? In the big picture, it probably helps keep our city clean.”
Spring CleanUp 101
This year, the annual program held in conjunction with spring’s arrival runs Monday, April 15, through Friday, April 26.
During the first week, crews will pick up garbage at addresses north of North Avenue. The second week is dedicated to addresses south of North Avenue, including annexed areas of Orchard Mesa and the Redlands.
This is a city program only.
All garbage piles must be out in front of your house by 7 a.m. on the Monday of your week because the crews move quickly and won’t return to a street.
Any residence with more than one dump-truck load of garbage (about 10 cubic yards) will be charged $150 per load.
If you put out prohibited items such as piles of tires, old paint or broken TVs, the city won’t take them.
All city workers involved with Spring Cleanup will meet early Monday morning before the program begins for a safety debriefing and doughnuts. It’s the one morning where they get a special breakfast, Starr said.
The list of items Spring Cleanup crews won’t dispose of is lengthy, but there is a reason why the crews can’t pick up everything.
For one, certain items or materials are banned by the landfill.
For two, the people on the city crews are humans, so it’s potentially dangerous for them to pick up your toxic waste, especially if they don’t see the cans of hazardous liquids you’ve wrapped in rags and stuffed in a dryer. (Starr has seen this technique.)
The prohibited items are: tires, asphalt rubble, concrete rubble, gas/air cylinders, fuel tanks, engines, items longer than 6 feet, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, all liquids, antifreeze, oil, grease, gas/diesel, paint/stain, batteries and all electronic items, or e-waste.
Although this free program is the city’s most popular for residents, it isn’t the most popular one for crews, so Starr encouraged people to follow the rules.
“Not that they hate it, it’s just that it’s pretty intense and long days,” he said. “It’s somewhat monotonous. Sometimes when you grab piles, what are you grabbing? People have tried to hide stuff.”
To dispose of hazardous items banned by the landfill that Spring Clean-Up crews won’t take, call Mesa County Hazardous Waste Facility at 257-9336 or 256-9543.
Call Municipal Service Center, 333 West Ave., at 242-1036 or Mesa County Hazardous Waste Facility to dispose of e-waste crews won’t remove.
The city is hosting a free tire disposal from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 27 at the Municipal Service Center. A maximum of four passenger-car or light-truck-size tires will be accepted per household.
Proof of city residency is required.
Spring CleanUp FAQ
Visit gjcity.org/SpringCleanup.aspx if you have misplaced your Spring Cleanup mailer or live outside of city limits and want to learn more about the program.
The website answers questions about a multitude of things such as:
■ How to donate unwanted items still in good shape to charity instead of the landfill.
■ Where to put your garbage pile if you have no on-street parking.
Good clean fun
Although Spring Clean-Up is exclusively in the city, everyone can participate in this scavenger hunt.
Load up the car, hop on your bikes or lace up the walking shoes and head out to see if you can find any, or all, of these Spring Clean-Up items.
This list was put together with the help of Starr, who has spent 28 years looking at Grand Junction garbage.
If you find an item, cross it off the list.
Some of these items will be relatively easy to find, Starr said. Some, however, will be nearly impossible to spot.
1. Christmas tree.
3. Pile of at least 10 pizza boxes.
4. Garden hose.
6. BBQ grill.
7. Pile of dead branches/shrubs at least 5 feet long and 3 feet high.
8. Someone taking an item from a garbage pile.
9. Pile of one lone item.
10. Plastic swimming pool.