22News I-Team report on illegal dumping in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield city officials recently announced they are cracking down on illegal dumping. They are increasing patrols through problem spots, installing high-resolution cameras that can identify suspects and read license plates, and they are proposing an increase in fines for violators.
The 22News I-Team found out how much of your tax money is being used to install this vast network of cameras and how much the city spends each year to clean up the trash.
Patrick Sullivan is the executive director of the Springfield Parks and Buildings Department. He said violators come from all over. “Maybe a third from Springfield, a third from out of town, and a third from out of state,” said Patrick Sullivan. “We’ve had them as far away as New Haven, Connecticut.”
Sullivan told the 22News I-Team the city spends nearly $85,000 per year in taxpayer money to fund the clean up of illegal dumping.
VIDEO: High-resolution cameras in Springfield
They’re hoping to decrease that expense by further investing in strategically placed cameras throughout the city. The city started with three cameras in 2015. Seven years later, they have more than 20, at a cost of $400 to $500 each.
Adam Anulewicz works in the Parks and Buildings Department. It’s his job to maintain this vast camera network. The cameras can easily be moved and repositioned to problem areas. Anulewicz said violators make quick work of dumping their trash. In most cases, they’re in and out in only a few minutes.
“People are driving by and they’re stopping their vehicles right here. And you know, they’re just basically throwing the stuff right out,” said Anulewicz.
City officials said illegal dumping isn’t as bad as it was five years ago thanks in part to the camera installations. So far, their cameras have caught more than 100 people in the act.
“We have one person, we finally caught them. They had dumped about 15 times,” said Sullivan.
VIDEO: Monitoring illegal dumping in Springfield
Springfield Ups the Ante:
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno announced in early February that the city would petition the courts to allow the city to return the dumped items back to the violators.
“We’d like to be able to take these illegally dumped items and go to these people’s places of residence and we’re going to dump it on their property and see how they like it,” said Mayor Domenic Sarno at a news conference in early February.
Smile, You’re on Springfield’s Candid Camera
Patrick Sullivan with the Parks and Buildings Department said the city also plans to assess their fines and possibly increase the amount violators are forced to pay.
Meanwhile, as the city navigates potential legal hurdles in returning dumped junk to its owners, Adam Anulewicz in the parks department will continue installing and moving those cameras around the city.
“How would like it if this was your neighborhood? I’ve heard it from people who are in these particular neighborhoods where the houses are and they come out and they say ‘hey I really appreciate what you’re doing. It’s making a difference,’” said Anulewicz.
Bulk Item Disposal:
The City of Springfield offers disposal of bulk items, like an old washer or dryer. The cost of bulk item pickup is $8.00 per item. The city’s website outlines where you can purchase bulk item stickers and extra bag stickers.
Do you notice any illegal dumping of trash in your neighborhood? Email 22News at email@example.com.