San Juan launches city-wide neighborhood cleanups

City of San Juan employees throw away trash during a “Neighborhood Cleanup” event Saturday in San Juan. (Courtesy Photo)

One could say the city of San Juan is taking out the trash.

At least that was the idea Saturday when officials held an event that helped rid the community of garbage on local streets.

During the “Neighborhood Cleanup,” the city collected furniture, tires, brush and leaves at four locations throughout the day. It was the city’s most recent effort to clean the streets, an issue observed universally by candidates in the most recent city elections.

“Based on the response that we got from citizens, it was a very good turnout,” San Juan Mayor Mario Garza said about Saturday’s event. “They were very happy that the city is now implementing this.”

Garza said the city will try to host similar trash collecting events at least once a month in order to provide residents with an opportunity to properly dispose of their waste as opposed to dumping on city streets.

He added that the city plans to purchase more machinery, particularly a grappler to help with collecting brush.

“Our city is divided into four quadrants, and right now our goal is to have a grappler that picks up the brush per quadrant,” Garza said. “We’re looking at purchasing more brush trucks as well as some roll-offs so we can dump all that brush in.”

The mayor described the city’s trash issue as one that has improved in recent years. He believes the city is in a much cleaner state, but many city employees continue to have their work cut out for them.

“When our employees pick up the brush, within a day or two, passing by those locations there will be more brush,” Garza said. “People will just go back there and dump it. What we’re doing is we’re dealing with our Code Enforcement Department, and we’re having them give our warnings. The second time they do that, we’re going to go ahead and cite them.”

He said the brush and debris that is dumped on the streets creates obstacles for the city’s drainage, which leads to more issues, particularly flooding as the threat of hurricanes and tropical storms remains ever-present this time of the year.

“A lot of this brush is being placed right over the gutters where all the water flows through,” Garza said. “We’re having to educate the citizens and let them know that the brush needs to be away from the gutters for the simple reason that as soon as we get debris in there, we’re clogging up the pipes and then we have flooding issues.”

“It’s very important that we move quick on this because it’s hurricane season,” he continued. “We’re doing everything possible to clean up and focus the city on cleaning up the brush.”

Residents who need to dispose of brush and trash can take it to the city’s brush dumpsite, located at 301 W. Hall Acres, anytime from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.