Mayor Hubbard announces Phase II of her Call to Service initiative, aimed at cleaning up illegal trash dumping sites in Albany.

Mayor Hubbard announces Phase II of her Call to Service initiative at an illegal trash dumping site on Silica Road Friday in Albany.

Mayor Hubbard announces Phase II of her Call to Service initiative at an illegal trash dumping site on Silica Road Friday in Albany.

ALBANY — “We are standing in a dump.”

These were the first words out of Mayor Dorothy Hubbard’s mouth at Friday morning’s news conference to announce the implementation of Phase II of Call to Service, an initiative aimed at cleaning up and preventing illegal trash dumping.

Surrounded by discarded furniture, bedding and machinery parts, the illegal trash dumping site on East Albany’s Silica Drive may have been a less-than-glamorous setting, but one that emphasized the point.

“How can we be proud of our city when we have so many places that look like this?” Hubbard said. “Companies who see areas like this are not going to want to bring their business here, and I don’t blame them. When that happens, economic development is just not going to happen.

“It’s disgusting. And we have to stop this now.”

Hence, Phase II of Call to Service, an initiative begun one year ago by Keep Albany-Doughtery Beautiful. Phase I consisted of implementing educational policy by creating public awareness of problems and helping citizens establish ways to be involved in a solution.

“We have over 100 citizen-created teams in the city who work in their neighborhoods and nearby areas,” said KADB Director Judy Bowles. “But it’s not enough. We can clean up this site today, but tomorrow, someone else will have dumped their trash here. It becomes discouraging. There are still a lot of people who just don’t care.”

During the news conference, several vehicles loaded with items cruised by the site, but kept driving past - for the moment.

“We’ve been working on this initiative for a year now, and it’s not working,” Hubbard said.

“We’re going to start punishing violators,” Hubbard said. “When we find them, we’re going to throw the books at them; people have to realize that this kinda of thing is not OK.

“I hope the courts enforce consequences to the highest level. Let them issue a fine and have them do community service. Maybe that will make people think twice before they do this.”

The city has cameras placed in strategic locations to help catch perpetrators. There has been consideration of closing roads prone to becoming dump sites, but traffic flow concerns and city laws prevent it from being a viable option for now.

Hubbard and Bowles asked that residents, police, law enforcers and judges join with them to help eradicated this issue.

“Bottom line, we want this cleaned up, and we need to look at why this is happening,” Hubbard said. “Citizens, keep your eyes open. When you see or hear about something, find out who it is, and why they did it.

“I mean, if you’re going to the trouble to load these items and other trash onto your vehicle, why not just go ahead and take it to the landfill? You’re already expending the effort to get rid of it, why not do it legally?”

Currently, residents residing within the city limits can take trash and other items to the Dougherty County landfill, which can accept up to 250 pounds of waste per person each day, free of charge.

City officials are working with the Dougherty County Commission to implement similar options available for county residents.

Hubbard also expressed her thanks to those residents who are doing their part to help.

“We want everyone to be with us on this,” she said. “We need to have more pride in our community and how it looks.”

Bowles agreed. “Before we leave home in the mornings, the last thing most of us do is glance in the mirror to see how we look. The same applies here. We need to take a good look around at our community and take care of what we don’t want to see.”